2023 House Speaker Election

Let’s get provocative!!  What would a coalition House look like and how might it work?

Per government rules, a Speaker of the House must be elected with a majority of votes from congresspeople, and in 2023, if all members of the House were present and did not vote present, the number of votes needed was 218. 

The House elected a Speaker in January 2023 with Republicans having 222 seats and the vast majority wanted Representative Kevin McCarthy to be Speaker. They got their wish but it wasn’t pretty.  The process exposed the split within the Party and reminded everybody of the contentiousness that grew from the 2020 Presidential election but had been brewing for at least 10 years. A 20 member House caucus of which 18 were Republican 2020 election deniers refused to vote for McCarthy, causing the election to repeat multiple times for the first time in over a century.

Often there needs to be a problem before change can wiggle into existence and we witnessed a problem that may have multiple solutions but for now I am talking about a coalition solution.

It took 15 rounds before McCarthy was elected.  McCarthy’s concessions to the GOP dissidents were significant and could ultimately cut his tenure as speaker short. McCarthy agreed to restore a rule allowing a single Republican member to call for a vote to depose him as speaker, the same rule that led to John Boehner’s decision to resign as speaker in 2015.

The 20 House members throwing a roadblock to the election of a House Speaker were part of the Freedom Caucus formally known as Tea Baggers/Tea Party.  It was the Tea Baggers that would attend Democrats’ “meet your congressman” meetings after President Obama was first elected and shouted down the speakers.

While McCarthy’s victory gave him the speaker’s gavel there is little that he or the House can accomplish with the Senate and Presidency held by the Democratic party.  Therefore the House and Republicans will have to settle for multiple partisan investigations.

McCarthy and moderate Republicans will most likely need Democrats votes to overcome the group of 20  who have shown disdain with government spending and raising the debt ceiling.  Even with Democrats help, McCarthy will have to deal with the deals he cut on spending with those 20 not to mention that he would have to compromise with Democrats to get their help.

A coalition controlled House would need a new Speaker.  Why?  To start fresh and marginalize each Party’s hard liners.

Should a Speaker of the House be an election denier?  I don’t think so nor should any of the 147 Representatives and Senators who went along with the mob and voted to reject the electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania be in office.  The constitutional officer second in line to the Presidency should not be someone who tried to overturn the last election for the Presidency.

McCarthy was a steady defender of former president Donald Trump for most of his time as majority leader and minority leader. After Biden won the 2020 presidential election, McCarthy supported Trump’s false denial of Biden’s victory and participated in efforts to overturn the results, and while he condemned the January 6 United States Capitol attack in its immediate aftermath, blaming Trump for the riot and saying the 2020 election was legitimate, he  later walked back these comments and reconcile with Trump.

I think the best path forward given the tendency of that gang of 20 is to elect a Speaker that Democrats would help elect and keep the gang of 20 on the sidelines, off committees, and eventually out of Congress.  There are some election deniers that are not in that gang of 20 and they too should be kept off committees.  America needs to move forward and the election deniers are a boat anchor.

To this end, why not do it with a bang?  I would like to see Adam Kinzinger elected as Speaker of the House.

He served as a United States representative from Illinois from 2011 to 2023. A member of the Republican Party, Kinzinger originally represented Illinois’s 11th congressional district and later Illinois’s 16th congressional district. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.

After President Donald Trump was defeated in the 2020 presidential election, Kinzinger became known for his vocal opposition to Trump’s claims of voter fraud and attempts to overturn the results. Kinzinger was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection in his second impeachment, and one of only two Republicans to vote to create a select committee to investigate the 2021 United States Capitol attack, to which he was subsequently appointed.

On October 29, 2021, Kinzinger announced that he would not seek reelection to Congress in 2022, after redistricting placed him and another Republican incumbent in the same district.

If Republicans truly want to move on from President Trump then this would be a bold and powerful way of doing so.  It would send a message that the Republican Party is back and no longer hijacked by whatever it was that took the Party away from its roots.

Kinzinger is not a liberal.  He is a Republican. Republicans should not be afraid of him.  Since Republicans now control, sort of, the House, maybe Democrats should find someone they can work with and if that is Kinzinger, they too should not be afraid of him.  He won’t give Democrats everything they want but maybe together they can accomplish something other than investigations and denying the results of the 2020 election.

Here are just a few of the questions that Democrats would have if Kinzinger were Speaker of the House:

  1. Kinzinger might want to repeal Obama Care and replace it with a plan that would greatly increase costs for older Americans.
  2. Kinzinger might not want  to reduce the number of people who can get legal or illegal use of fast firing guns.
  3. Kinzinger might not take aggressive steps to reduce green house emissions.
  4. Kinzinger might not want to financially support the children and mothers that would not be allowed to end a pregnancy.