February 1, 2023

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Who will become the new Speaker of the House is still far from certain

Who will succeed Nancy Pelosi as the new speaker of the House of Representatives? This is still not clear. Republican Kevin McCarthy has the best chance, but at the same time he faces significant resistance from Trump loyalists within his own party. There is hope even for the Democrats.

Maral Naushad Sharifi

The day the new House of Representatives takes office shall be a holiday. New long-serving members of Parliament bring their friends and family with them, and children run through the corridors of the Capitol. There are delicacies from various American circles. An ancient tradition – but now this is different from the usual.

The president must also be elected on Tuesday. It’s been a piece of cake for a hundred years: in one round, the previously chosen candidate wins. Republican Kevin McCarthy (57) should have been such a candidate. But whether he could really eat the hammer is highly questionable.

Republicans have been battling each other since the November election. They have won a majority in the House of Representatives and are therefore allowed to introduce the “Speaker of the House.” McCarthy needs enough votes: 218 to be exact. And this is a problem.

Republicans have only 222 seats in the House of Representatives: if there are five defectors, it won’t work. So McCarthy’s enemies have a lot of power in this vote – and his enemies have a lot.

Not conservative enough

A group of about nine ultra-conservatives loyal to Trump had been putting up the hurdles until the last hours. “I’m not going to vote for Kevin McCarthy,” said Bob Good of Virginia on Monday. Fox News. “Hundreds of my constituents have told me not to do it.”

Members of the so-called Freedom Caucus, a far-right Republican group, don’t think McCarthy is conservative enough. Far-right politicians like Colorado’s Lorraine Boebert and Florida’s Matt Gaetz are only willing to support McCarthy at a high price. They are pressing McCarthy to change the rules in the House of Representatives so that the Speaker can be removed more easily. Now only a congressman in a leadership position can hold a vote of no confidence, and rank-and-file members of Congress are demanding that they do the same.

Nancy Pelosi with the gavel at the opening of the new House legislature on January 3, 2019.Reuters photo

Hard parquet

Kevin McCarthy is in a tough spot. If he agrees to the ultra-conservatives’ biggest demand, his presidency will hang by a thread for the next two years. The radical part of his party will threaten to impeach him at all times. Then the Republican Party becomes completely hostage to what moderates, often behind closed doors, call “crazy.”

McCarthy spent all Christmas calling and pleading. He’s added more and more water to the wine and is now willing to expand the rules around the president’s impeachment to five members of Congress, a major concession. He warned opponents: “If you withdraw now, you will not get a better offer.”

However, they still do not agree. If they continue to do so on Tuesday, McCarthy may not become president, a wish Republicans have cherished for years. What will happen next is uncertain.

With less support is still the majority

There is a possibility that another Republican will suddenly appear on the stage. Someone who presents himself as a hero to restore peace after months of quarrels. Steve Scales (57), a congressman from Louisiana, could be such a person. Scalise attracts both right-wingers and moderates. Although he had always said that he had no such ambitions, he could still feel called upon.

There is another goat track. McCarthy needs the support of at least half of the votes: more yes than no. Delegates who do not vote are not counted. If a number of rebel Republicans abstain rather than say a firm “no,” McCarthy could still get a majority with less support.

McCarthy himself fears things will go wrong: he warns of a democratic coup. “We must speak with one voice,” he told Al-Yamin TV. newsmax. “If the games are played, the Democrats can walk away from the presidency.”

Even the Democrats have a chance

Democrats can also nominate someone. Normally this is not an opportunity for the minority party. However, with enough opposition among Republicans, this was no longer out of the question. Moderate Republicans tired of the bickering in their own party can choose to. This scenario is the least likely, but the most painful for the Republicans.

Early Tuesday morning, the Republican Party will meet again. This is McCarthy’s last chance. If he fails his call, the first day of Congress will descend into chaos for the first time in a hundred years.

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