For months now, the conventional political wisdom has suggested that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds the inside track to be the next Speaker of the House if and when Republicans won the House in the midterm elections.
With the election decided and the GOP holding a slim majority in the House, efforts have begun to secure the votes McCarthy needs to ascend to the highest office in Congress.
But it now looks like McCarthy may not have the support he needs to be Speaker, which leaves open the possibility that a more hardline conservative could garner the votes needed to be Speaker of the House, Aaron Blake notes in an article he wrote for The Washington Post.
So far, four House Republicans have said or suggested they’re not supporting McCarthy. And the likeliest 2022 election outcome is that House Republicans will end up with 221 or 222 votes in the chamber, giving McCarthy around a three- or four-vote cushion in the speaker vote. (You need a majority to be elected speaker.)
Where things go from here largely depends not only on these Republicans’ commitment to opposing McCarthy — which is a valid question, given the pervasive posturing in politics — but also how they would register that discontent.
According to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), McCarthy will never be Speaker.
Speaking with former White House adviser Steve Bannon on his podcast, Gaetz explained the reason for his certainty that McCarthy doesn’t have the votes he needs.
“Five members which include myself, Andy Biggs, Bob Good, Matt Rosendale and now most recently Ralph Norman have all come out and said that our no vote on McCarthy is firm. It was not just a no vote within the Republican conference. It is a no vote we intend to carry to the floor.
“Republicans are expected to hold a four-seat majority. So five of us saying publicly we have no intention of voting for McCarthy; we are firm in our opposition to him, well, that ought to trigger a realization among Republicans that we need a consensus candidate.”
So who might that “consensus” candidate be? The name that keeps coming up is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who appeals to the extreme right-wing of House Republicans and might just be able to cobble together enough votes for a majority if McCarthy is left in the lurch.
Jordan, it should be noted, would be a nightmare as Speaker, eager to try and settle scores with anyone he disagrees with politically. He’d also fast track efforts to impeach President Joe Biden and insist that Republicans investigate many others in the Biden administration. He’d tie raising the debt ceiling to cuts in Medicare and Social Security and endanger U.S. national security in any number of ways.
In other words, if Jim Jordan becomes Speaker of the House, American democracy will once again be threatened from within.