Congress cannot elect a speaker 

Overall, the electorate in 2022 delivered a warning against going too far toward extremes, and soundly rejected the counter-democracy actions but we’re likely headed for a messy, partisan two years led by GOP politicians who did not get the message.

Three names were entered into nomination for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, all but guaranteeing that no member emerges as the victor on the first ballot.

No potential first-time House speaker has had such a small majority since Democrat John Nance Garner in 1931, but Republicans secured only 222 seats in the 2022 midterms.

GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik rose to nominate House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, and Arizona’s crackpot Congressman Paul Gosar entered the name of his fellow Grand Canyon State Republicans Rep. Andy Biggs.

An hour of inconclusive balloting resulted in 212 votes that were cast for Jeffries, 202 for McCarthy, 10 Biggs, and nine for others, six of which went to Republican Jim Jordan.

A quorum call of the House of Representatives was completed and there were 434 members who stated they are present in the chamber.

McCarthy needs to get 218 votes to be able to become speaker, but a number of Republicans said they would not support his bid for the leadership.

A closed-door conference meeting among GOP members erupted with cursing and yelling at each other loud enough to be heard outside the room, several hours before they moved inot the chamber to elect a House leader.

Reps. Lauren Boebert, Scott Perry, Chip Roy and Ralph Norman were huddled close to each other as the chamber prepared for the vote.

McCarthy made a number of concessions to the caucus in a GOP rules package released late on Monday, but Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), the leader of a group of conservatives largely opposed to McCarthy’s speakership, has said his overtures have fallen short.

With 212 Democrats and 222 Republicans, GOP defectors made it impossible for McCarthy to win unless a number of repeated ballots erodes the resolve of members who dislike the erstwhile GOP minority leader.

“Every single Republican in Congress knows that Kevin does not actually believe anything. He has no ideology,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz — who is opposed to McCarthy’s bid for House speaker. “If you want to drain the swamp, you cannot put the biggest alligator in charge of the exercise.”

“No matter how they resolve Tuesday’s vote choosing the next speaker of the House, Republicans appear poised to double down on the hard-edged politics that most swing state voters rejected in last November’s midterm election,” said Ronald Brownstein, a senior political analyst for CNN. “Stubborn conservative resistance to House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has put the party at risk of precipitating the first speakership election that extends to more than a single ballot since 1923 – and only the second since the Civil War.”

McCarthy struggled to appease conservative demands, but it seems as if every move severely weakened him in ways that will become evident if he does manage to take the gavel.

On Sunday, McCarthy proposed a House rules package that included intended olive branches to Freedom Caucus members who would not commit to supporting him for speaker.

The gestures from McCarthy include proposals to reduce to five the number of Republicans it would take to force a vote on ousting the speaker, create a select Judiciary subcommittee to centralize investigations into the executive branch, limit bills to a single subject and make it harder to waive the germaneness rule for amendments.

But those proposals did not appear to be enough to win over many members who have opposed making him speaker.

In the House of Representatives, the majority party holds significant power to draft chamber rules and schedule bills to reach the floor for debate and voting.

The House is charged with the passage of federal legislation, otherwise known as bills, which, after concurrence by the Senate, are sent to the President for consideration.

The House also has the exclusive power to initiate bills for raising revenue, impeach officials, and choose the President in the event that a presidential candidate fails to get a majority of the Electoral College votes.

A second vote is expected but Charile Dent, a former Republican congressman, said that he doesn’t see a path for McCarthy to win the voted needed on a subsequent round of balloting.

“They can keep having these votes, but once you vote this way, it’s very hard to change your vote. So, I don’t see how he gets there,” said Dent. “What can he give these folks that he hasn’t already tried to give them? I don’t think there’s anything he can give them. It will never be enough. It seems so personal. They don’t — they just don’t want him so I don’t think there’s anything he can do. No concession he can make. There’s no more appeasement that he can do to win some of these folks over.”

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