This is meant to serve as an update on the House Speakership. In reality this is an update without a conclusion.
The House is in recess subject to the call of the Chair. As has been reported, the House is not expected to conduct a third ballot for the election of the Speaker today. Jim Jordan remains the House Republican Speaker designee but is short of the 217 votes required to become Speaker of the House. Jordan’s path to 217 is unlikely to improve in the immediate future. Whether an arrangement can be made with the 20+ Republican holdouts over the long-term is unclear.
In light of these facts, there has been renewed discussion of the House moving a resolution authored by Dave Joyce to elect Patrick McHenry to the role of Speaker Pro Tempore through the end of the year. McHenry serves in the role under an emergency provision of House Rules which only gives him the authority to preside over the election of a new Speaker. By electing McHenry to the Pro Tempore position, the Joyce resolution would confer upon him the full powers of the Speakership until a date certain and again allow legislation to move on the House floor. In the interim, House Republicans would continue to work towards providing 217 for a Speaker designee.
The issue with electing a Speaker Pro Tempore is that not all House Republicans support the move. Thus, Democratic votes would be required for the Joyce resolution to pass. As such, this has been characterized (particularly by conservatives) as a “coalition-style” Speakership, which they are fundamentally opposed to as Members of the Majority Party. It is also a framework that is entirely untested in the modern congressional era.
Although Jim Jordan, as well as Kevin McCarthy, were reportedly supportive of the resolution to elect Patrick McHenry Speaker Pro Tempore, the mood within the House Republican Conference has turned against the measure. In light of all of these internal debates and the above realities, House Republicans have scrapped the idea of moving a Speaker Pro Tempore election resolution for the time being.
Discussion has now turned to whether the House can empower itself to again process legislation on the floor, but without a Speaker. This is questionable given the Speaker is a constitutional officer and in the direct line of succession to the presidency. As such, electing a Speaker is of the highest order of business in the House and takes precedence over all else. This is why legislation may not come to the floor without a Speaker, nor can legislation be referred to committee.
Which brings us to the outset of this email… this is an update without a conclusion as House Republican remain deeply divided without a clear pathway forward. We will keep you updated.