Among politicos, there has been some chatter over whether to bring in an outsider as speaker after the Republicans gain the majority in the House in the new Congress.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who lost her primary to a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate, was among the names being floated as a possible speaker. She bucked GOP leadership for Trump's second impeachment and became vice chair of the Jan. 6 House select committee.
With her combination of "anti-Trumpism" and lukewarm neoconservative values, she could overtake support among centrists and Democrats. Cheney could represent the "rebuke of Trumpism," as Capitol Hill reporter Juliegrace Brufke referred to her "getting a hearty group of both sides to vote for her."
One does not necessarily need to be a member of the House to be a speaker, but the chances are slim.
The Constitution says the "House of Representatives shall [choose] their speaker and other officers," making no mention of the qualifications of these officers.
Every speaker has been selected from within the chamber, though outsiders may receive votes to detract from the leading candidate.
During the 2019 speakership vote in which Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was elected, two people voted for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., one for now-President Joe Biden and one for former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Since Republicans will have a small majority, there has been talk of centrists from both parties teaming up their vote for the speaker of their choice. Some have floated the idea of former Rep. Justin Amash, L-Mich.; but with the political division being so prominent, how far-fetched is it to think of a "never-Trumper" to lead a Republican house? Eerily similar in values, Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was speaker in general defiance of Trump during the first two years of the administration.
Prospective speakers don't always have to receive 218 votes or even a majority of the House to assume the role. It is required only that more than 50% of members are present and voting. Pelosi won another term as speaker in 2021 with just 216 votes because three members voted "present."
In July 2021, Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa, introduced a bill that would ensure only members of the House would be eligible for the role of speaker. This bill hasn't moved since its introduction.
"The speaker of the U.S. House is second in the United States presidential line of succession. That Donald Trump's name would even be tossed around as a potential speaker in the people's house, should serve as an alarm bell that our current requirements need to be amended in the name of protecting our nation and our democracy," Boyle said in a statement.
Democrats have expressed an extreme hatred toward Trumpism, allowing for an openness to Cheney, who may have lost reelection but could be speaker. Suppose Democrats can get past Cheney's lackluster conservative values? In that case, the avenue awaits for centrists to hone in and take aim against a Trump-agenda-driven GOP or, at the very least, the House.
The speaker election will be held on Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress. Republicans nominated McCarthy for speaker in a 188-31 vote, with, of course, strong resistance from the conservative Freedom Caucus.
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