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The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

House of Representatives in turmoil as Speaker stalemate enters third week

J. Scott Applewhite, Courtesy of AP
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, pauses for reporters after House Republicans dropped him as their nominee for speaker in a private meeting, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023.

The House of Representatives has been without an elected speaker for nearly three weeks after far-right Republicans and some Democrats voted to remove former Speaker Kevin McCarthy Oct. 3.  

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) will remain acting speaker after Freedom Caucus Republican Jim Jordan (R-OH) fell short after three rounds of House voting last week. Jordan is no longer his party’s candidate for speaker. 

House Republicans have a 221 to 212 majority over Democrats. However, factions within the Republican Party have stifled attempts to unify. DePaul political science professor Wayne Steger called it a “serious division between anti-establishment MAGA Republicans and traditional conservatives.”

The House Speaker is third in line to the presidency and wields significant power within Congress by acting as chief negotiator between the House and the president. The speaker also controls what legislation is brought forward for a House vote. 

However, as the nation witnessed with McCarthy’s 10-month term, “The Speaker’s power basically disappears if the majority party does not unify,” Steger said. 

Heightened pressure for the GOP to reach a consensus comes from the government’s imminent shutdown slated for mid-November if Congress cannot pass spending bills to raise the debt ceiling. 

“The longer this drags out, the more dangerous it is,” said Scott Hibbard, DePaul political science professor.

Jordan, a loyal supporter of former president Donald Trump, opposes raising the debt ceiling, which Hibbard said would raise nationwide interest rates and ultimately cost taxpayers billions of dollars. 

“We are not able to get our fiscal house in order, we’re not able to pass basic appropriation bills, and we’re not able to do the basic functioning of government,” Hibbard said.

With chaos and a stalemate in the House, Hibbard said America’s international credibility is suffering. 

“The inability of the Republican caucus to come together to elect a Speaker is a sign of the internal dysfunction that limits the country’s ability to act overseas, and other countries clearly recognize this,” Hibbard said.

American foreign policy is currently dedicated to continued support for Ukraine and Israel, as President Joe Biden explained in his Oval Office speech Oct. 19.

However, spending bills must be passed in both the House and the Senate. Hibbard said the money Biden has promised to Israel and Ukraine could not be allocated until the speakership is fulfilled or until the power of the acting speaker is expanded. 

“We cannot legally provide the kind of support that Joe Biden has just committed until we get a functioning house,” Hibbard said. 

Steger said Biden’s trip to Israel last week was an attempt to demonstrate that America is not irrelevant in international politics.

“The signal is no American leadership here, which means Americans can be ignored,” Steger said. 

The House will reconvene Monday to effectively start from scratch after a majority of Republican representatives eliminated Jordan as their nominee. 

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