House Republicans Elect Tom Emmer as Speaker Designate, but Electability Remains in Question
House Republicans made a significant decision on October 24th, electing Tom Emmer as their third speaker designate. However, there are concerns about his electability in the upcoming House floor election due to opposition from holdout Republicans.
Emmer, 62, faced a tough challenge from Rep. Mike Johnson, who pursued the leadership position through five secret ballots in the intra-conference nominating contest.
Although Emmer secured 117 votes, seven fewer than the previous speaker designate, it raises doubts about his ability to gather the necessary 217 Republican votes for election on the House floor.
Last week, Rep. Jim Jordan was dropped as the previous speaker designate after failing to secure a majority on the House floor. Before that, Steve Scalise withdrew from the race, realizing he lacked sufficient support.
Moving Toward Unity
The morning began with hopes of unity as Republican members expressed their desire to unite behind one of the seven candidates in the nominating contest.
Following Rep. Jordan’s withdrawal, nine candidates announced their bids for speakership, with seven remaining in the race during the nominating conference.
The candidates included Tom Emmer, the most senior contender, along with Mike Johnson, Byron Donalds, Kevin Hern, Jack Bergman, Austin Scott, and Pete Sessions.
Dan Meuser and Gary Palmer withdrew their candidacies before the nominating vote.
During the candidate forum held the evening before voting, the atmosphere was more subdued compared to previous meetings. After weeks of drama surrounding the removal of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the failed nominations of two others, emotions seemed to have cooled.
Although no clear frontrunner emerged from the forum, members anticipated the race would narrow down in the next 24 hours.
“We’re going to wait to have the really substantive [conversations] either overnight tonight or tomorrow morning,” said Rep. Nick Lalota, who voted against Mr. Jordan. “We’ll start to focus on the final one or two candidates and where there was synergy.”
“We have a lot of candidates who represent a good range of our conference and laid out good cases for what they want to do,” said Mr. Scalise. “And I think everybody’s talking about the same things. It’s about unifying our conference. Getting us back on track.”
“It’s going be a spirited vote today. I think the members are committed to making sure we elect the speaker, and that’s what we’re going to get done,” said Mr. Donalds. “Whoever our nominee is will have my support.”
Mr. Johnson expressed optimism about finding agreement, stating, “There was a good esprit de corps in the room last night, and I think there’s a commitment to get it done quickly.” He added that all candidates had committed to supporting the eventual designee.
The Nominating Ballots
Prior to voting, each candidate’s name was nominated by a member of their choice. Due to the number of candidates, only one nominating speech was allowed, unlike the typical three in conference votes.
After each round of voting, the candidate with the lowest vote total was eliminated. A simple majority was required for election, and the initial votes were cast by secret ballot.
Emmer led after the first ballot with 78 votes, followed by Johnson with 34 votes. Donalds came in third with 29 votes, and Hern received 27 votes. Sessions was eliminated.
However, concerns were raised about Emmer’s voting record, particularly regarding his support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which codified federal protections for same-sex couples. Rep. Rick Allen stated that he would not vote for Emmer due to their difference of opinion on marriage.
On the second ballot, Emmer received 90 votes, Johnson received 37, Donalds garnered 33, and Hern received 31. Bergman was eliminated.
Emmer’s support increased to 100 votes on the third ballot. Johnson, Donalds, and Hern, who were considered more conservative candidates, received 43, 32, and 26 votes respectively. Scott was eliminated.
During the fourth ballot, Emmer received 107 votes, Johnson received 56, and Donalds and Hern each received 25 votes. Hern was eliminated, and Donalds withdrew from the race. Four members voted for other candidates, and two voted “present.”
Emmer and Johnson proceeded to a fifth ballot, where Emmer secured the nomination. However, he immediately requested a confirming vote by roll call to gauge his chances of reaching the required 217 Republican votes in the House election. Unfortunately, 26 holdouts indicated they would not switch their votes to Emmer, and with the narrow Republican majority, he could only afford to lose four Republican votes.
Rep. Brandon Williams compared the situation to Groundhog Day, expressing his disappointment as a newcomer to politics. “I came here because I love this country, and, frankly, as a patriot, it’s really disheartening.”
Once the House resumes business after three weeks of inactivity, the new speaker will face a range of legislative issues that need immediate attention.
The first item on the agenda is likely to be the passage of a resolution supporting Israel’s right to self-defense, a symbolic measure with 425 co-sponsors.
Additionally, the House will consider President Joe Biden’s request for $105 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine, Israel, allies in the Indo-Pacific, and border security. While Republicans are supportive of Israel and strengthening border security, there are concerns about the bundled request for Ukraine aid, with some members advocating for individual consideration of each request.
The appropriations process must be resolved by November 17th. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy narrowly avoided a government shutdown by passing a 45-day continuing spending resolution (CR) on September 30th. Given the delay in concluding the appropriations process, some members believe a second CR is inevitable, while others demand the passage of the remaining eight appropriations bills and their reconciliation with the Senate before the current CR expires.
The House is also expected to discuss imposing additional sanctions on Iranian oil sales to reduce their ability to fund terrorist activities.
There is lingering tension within the Republican conference regarding the events of the past three weeks, including the removal of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy described the preceding weeks as “a total embarrassment” that had demoralized Republican members. He expressed concern about members resigning and emphasized the need for consequences for the eight Republicans who voted to remove the previous speaker, as they violated a Republican conference rule.
House rules allow a motion to vacate the chair to be introduced by one member, but it requires the support of 50 percent of GOP members.Jackson Richman, Joseph Lord, Ryusuke Abe, and NTD’s Melina Wisecup contributed to this report.
How did each of the Republican candidates showcase their qualifications and persuade their fellow Republicans to support their bid for speakership?
Ore the vote, each candidate had the opportunity to showcase their qualifications and persuade their fellow Republicans to support their bid for speakership. Emmer focused on his experience and leadership skills, emphasizing the need for unity within the party. Johnson emphasized his conservative values and his commitment to fighting for Republican principles. Donalds highlighted his background as a small business owner and his commitment to limited government. Hern emphasized his experience as a successful businessman and his dedication to fiscal responsibility. Bergman highlighted his military background and his commitment to national security. Scott emphasized his work on the House Agriculture Committee and his understanding of rural America. And Sessions highlighted his previous experience as a member of Congress and his commitment to conservative policies.
Ultimately, it was Emmer who won the support of the majority of Republican members. However, his victory was not without controversy. Several holdout Republicans expressed concerns about Emmer’s ability to win the necessary votes on the House floor. Some argued that Emmer’s moderate positions on certain issues could alienate more conservative members of the party, making it difficult for him to gather the support needed for election.
It remains to be seen whether Emmer can overcome these concerns and unite the Republican caucus behind him. The upcoming House floor election will be crucial in determining whether Emmer will become the next speaker of the House. If he fails to secure the necessary votes, the Republican Party will once again find itself in a leadership crisis, further deepening the divisions within the party.
Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that the Republican Party is facing significant challenges in selecting its next speaker. The divisions within the party have been evident throughout the nominating process, with multiple candidates vying for the position and widespread disagreement about the qualities and qualifications needed in a leader.
As the House Republicans move forward in their pursuit of a new speaker, it will be crucial for them to find a candidate who can unite the party and effectively advocate for Republican principles. The next speaker will play a key role in shaping the party’s agenda and leading the Republican caucus in the House. It is essential that they have
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