House Republicans’ refusal to elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker after several rounds of voting Tuesday left the lower house in a state of paralysis: new members not yet sworn in, committee assignments not yet done. dominate and House rules remain nonexistent, while the impasse could block the paychecks of some House staff if the GOP can’t reach a consensus by Jan. 13.
Without a speaker to oversee the approval of a new package of House rules—which could include the establishment of new panels, the process of removing the speaker, the makeup of committees and more—the House generally operates under the rules of the previous Congress.
If a new package of house rules is not adopted by Jan. 13, committee staff paychecks could be withheld in the absence of new committee authority to process payroll and student loan forgiveness programs for House staff could also happen, according to a law. December memo from the House administration first obtained by Politico.
For House committees that do not appoint new Republican leaders to replace Democrats, including the Ways and Means Committee, the highest-ranking Republican who served on the committee during the 117th Congress will serve as interim chairman until a new speaker is elected and it can be formally appointed. new committee heads, the House administration warned in its memo.
A lack of new committee leadership and rank-and-file duties could prevent committees from reviewing legislation, moving bills to the House floor for a vote and taking on the various GOP probes promised by the Biden Administration.
Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is second in line for the presidency in the absence of a speaker; Vice President Kamala Harris is first.
McCarthy became the first presidential candidate since 1923 not to win an election in Tuesday’s first round of voting after a small coalition of right-wing Republicans blocked his victory. The House will convene for a fourth round of voting on Wednesday, and McCarthy has said he plans to see the election through, while Republican holdouts have also expressed plans to hold their ground. The process could presumably drag on indefinitely, but this scenario never actually happened. In 1856, the House went two months without a speaker as the race went to 133 votes.
The House changed its rules in 1849 and 1856 to require a plurality vote to elect a new speaker, as opposed to the traditional majority rule, after it could not reach a consensus on a new leader. McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday evening he was not considering a rule change, however.
What To Look For
On Tuesday, McCarthy proposed the possibility of recruiting GOP members to vote present in an effort to lower the majority threshold to win from 218 to 213, one more vote than the 212 Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.) received from Democrats in the primary. round three on Tuesday. McCarthy would need to flip 11 GOP votes to get from 202 to 213 and convince nine of the GOP holdouts to vote present.
Trump urges GOP to unite behind McCarthy, avoid ’embarrassing defeat’ before 4th round of voting (Forbes)
Kevin McCarthy’s Historic Loss: House Adjourns After Failing to Win Presidential Vote After 3 Rounds (Forbes)