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Does Justin Amash Have a Chance to Become House Speaker?
Jeremy Amash Can they possibly do that? There has been talking in some House GOP circles over the past year about electing an outsider as speaker if Republicans take control of the upcoming Congress. Former Rep. Justin Amash announced last week that he was running for speaker in the event that front-runner Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) does not win enough support from the GOP conference in January.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) had earlier this year promised to nominate former President Donald Trump to preside over the chamber. The short answer is that while it is constitutionally permissible to run for speaker even if you are not a House member, your prospects of succeeding are extremely minimal.
Whether it’s current Minority Leader McCarthy or someone else in an unexpected triumph, the speaker of the incoming Republican-led House in January will probably be a member of the body even if they aren’t legally allowed to be.
The House of Representatives “shall [select] its Speaker and other Officers,” the Constitution simply states, without mentioning the qualifications of these officials. Every speaker has traditionally been chosen from within the chamber, albeit a few votes from opponents who aren’t supporting the front-runner may go to a random outsider.
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For instance, during the 2019 speakership vote in which Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was chosen, two persons cast ballots for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), one for Joe Biden, who is currently the president, and one for Stacey Abrams, a past candidate for governor of Georgia.
Gaetz stated in March at a rally in Florida that he wanted Republicans to “I’m going to nominate Donald Trump to be the next speaker of the United States House of Representatives after I fire Nancy Pelosi, regain the majority, and remove Joe Biden from office. The previous year, he first suggested having a “Speaker” Trump.
At the event in March, Trump retorted, “Well, that was fascinating.” His spokesperson informed journalists in June that the former president has “zero interest” in the position. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who mounted a challenge to McCarthy and was supported by the hardline House Freedom Caucus, appears to have gained Gaetz’s support.
There have been rumors of centrists from both parties working together to force a vote on the speaker because Republicans will have a very slim majority. The change would be welcomed by Amash, a former Republican lawmaker from Michigan who switched to the Libertarian Party.
Amash tweeted on November 15 that if neither party has the necessary number of votes to elect a speaker of the House, “I’d be happy to serve as a nonpartisan speaker who ensures the institution functions as it should—a place where all ideas are welcome and where outcomes are discovered through the process, not dictated from above.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who defied GOP leadership to support Trump’s second impeachment and take the vice chair of the committee on January 6, was another name that was mentioned. She lost her primary to a Trump-backed candidate after doing so.
Another oddity of the system is that prospective speakers need only receive more than 50% of the members present and voting in order to be elected; they are not necessarily required to receive 218 votes or a majority of the entire House. Due to three MPs voting “present,” Pelosi received 216 votes to secure a second term as speaker in 2021.
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) presented legislation in July 2021 to ensure that only House members may serve as speakers. Since its introduction, it has not been in motion. The U.S. House Speaker is the next in line to become president of the United States. Boyle stated in a statement that the fact that Donald Trump’s name was even mentioned as a possible speaker in the people’s house “should serve as a warning bell that our present rules need to be altered in the name of defending our nation and our democracy.”
On January 3, the first day of the new Congress, a vote will be taken to choose the speaker. McCarthy was the nominee for the position by Republicans in a 188-31 vote despite fierce opposition from the Freedom Caucus.