So there’s been some pretty intense dramas going on in the past week about the next speaker of the house. If you didn’t know, our new Speak of the House is Kevin McCarthy who gained this position after 15 ballots. Surprisingly, it’s not the highest as the most ballots ever is actually 133. But anyways, let’s indulge in this topic and explore why it took 15 ballots to elect Speaker McCarthy.
Firstly, and for one of my absolute favorite reasons, there’s drama. It’s the classic teenage high school drama, except with adults at higher levels and with more serious topics. One of the representatives who absolutely refused to vote for Speaker McCarthy until the 15th ballot was Matt Gaetz. So apparently there’s this little beef between the two that Mr. Gartz has not let go of. When Mr. Gaetz was accused with sex trafficking claims, apparently, Mr. McCarthy did not present a strong enough defense for Mr. Gaetz. For this reason, Mr. Gaetz absolutely refused to vote for him. If you ask me, I find it amusing how government officials who are respected adults and members still act the way my current peers do. It’s really funny.
In the end, he did vote for him, which is why Mr. McCarthy got the position. Why did it take so long though? What made Mr. Gaetz and the other representatives who refused to vote for him, suddenly changed their mind?
Two words. Back scratching. “I scratch you back if you scratch mine.” The price for Mr. McCarthy to become the next speaker required patience, determination, and a little bit of luck to get the right proposal for a vote.
According to CNN, some of the requirements for Mr. McCarthy to become speaker include:
- Seventy two hours to review the bills before they come to the floor
- Giving members the ability to offer more amendments on the House floor
- More Freedom Caucus representation on committees, including the powerful House Rules Committee
- A McCarthy-aligned super PAC agreed to not play in open Republican primaries in safe seats
- Any member can call for a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair – this is significant because it would make it much easier than it is currently to trigger what is effectively a no confidence vote in the speaker. Conservatives pushed hard for this, while moderates are worried it will weaken McCarthy’s hand.
- Restoring the Holman Rule, which can be used to reduce the salary of government officials
Now the most eye-catching is the Holman Rule. Perhaps you’ve never heard of it before and that’s why it stood out. In fact, I had never heard of it before. (As well as a few other things on the list but that’s for later) So you know what I had to do. I did a little research, and here’s what I found.
The Holman rule is a provision in the rules of the United States House of Representatives that allows for individual line items in appropriations bills to be targeted for reduction or elimination. The rule, which was first implemented in 1876 and has been used intermittently since then, allows for any member of the House to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill that would reduce or eliminate a specific item of spending. The rule is typically used as a tool to target spending on specific programs or projects that an individual member or group of members oppose.
Now, reading that, it doesn’t include anything about cutting salaries. I know. Let me explain. As a measure to make it easier for lawmakers to eliminate federal agencies or slash the pay of individual agencies, the House restored the Holman Rule. As part of this rules package. It will “allow individual lawmakers to reduce the number of federal workers at specific agencies or cut their compensation as a provision or amendment to an appropriation bill.” This rule also allows lawmakers to target specific federal programs or offices, such as the FBI. They can use this to target the FBI or to “zero-out funding for specific federal investigations”. Essentially, they can use this bill as a reason to specifically target and remove agencies they do not want. Sly isn’t it?
Another shady back scratching deal that took place includes a “one-member election trigger”. 20 Republicans held out on voting for McCarthy until the 15th ballot. Why? For different reasons, they all could dislike Mr. McCarthy. That’s why this one-member election trigger agreement must have been a really good deal. The concession gives the ability for just ONE legislator to trigger a vote on whether to remove the Speaker from office. So anytime a legislator, even for a second, doesn’t want Mr. McCarthy as Speaker, all they have to do is say so. (Of course there’s most likely a longer process, but you get the point) This motion has had a long history, but it was raised to a minimum of 5 people to trigger the vacate. This time, it just takes one person. It could be Mr. Matt Gaetz, or maybe Ms. Lauren Boebert. It could be any of those 20 who refused to do so. It could even be a Democrat representative.
One more major event that took place was the restraining of Congressman Mike Rogers. After the 14th ballot, Mr. Rogers- an ally of Speaker McCarthy- was physically restrained for bellowing and jabbing fingers at a fellow Republican who was not supporting Mr. McCarthy. The main reason I brought this up was because it reminded me of The Caning of Charles Sumner. Senator Charles Sumner, an abolitionist Republican, was caned by Representative Preston Brooks, a pro-slavery Democrat, in 1856. Charles Sumner denounced the Bleeding Kansas crisis in a speech. This speech argued for the immediate admission of Kansas as a free state. He talked about the hateful embrace of slavery and the hideous crime. A response to this from Mr. Brooks included a caning. If I remember correctly from my history class, Mr. Sumner was badly beaten. To be fair, Mr. Brooks asked his fellow Representative on dueling etiquette , to which they replied that Charles Sumner was no gentleman – and a drunkard- and did not merit honorable treatment which is expected in a duel. That’s why they believed a cane beating in public to humiliate him would be better suited. Now although the two situations are rather different, this event was the first thing I thought of when I heard about the restraint.
Anyways, that was just the main points I wanted to cover regarding the Speaker elections. I’m now curious to see how things will play out and how each of these new requirements will be used in the future. Bye!