Speaker US House of Representatives – A coveted chair in the US – which rarely wobbles – News


With Kevin McCarthy, the Republican crown favorite has not yet made it into the speaker office as expected. His party seems too divided. But how was it before?

It’s all about this: The grand chamber of the US Parliament is reshuffled every two years. With the new year, the 118th Congress has convened for the first time. The first procedure is the election of a head («speaker»). If one party remains in the majority, there is usually no change of speaker. Once the voters’ favor has turned, an internal party election campaign takes place, at the end of which a favorite usually emerges.

How often are there multiple ballots? Rarely. This has only happened 14 times so far. The last time this was exactly 100 years ago. In 1923, Republican Congressman Frederick Gillet of Massachusetts was elected after nine ballots. He had to pass an internal competition with the progressive wing of the party.

Between 1839 and the American Civil War in 1863, Democrats and Republicans alternated in quasi-biennial rhythms. Infighting also broke out within the parties. The 1856 election was historically unique, when the parliament, which was at odds between supporters and opponents of slavery, was unable to agree on a speaker for around two months. A total of 133(!) times had to be voted on. Since 1856 there have only been two more ballots.

How much power does a speaker have? Over the past 200 years, the office has become increasingly important. The increased status has gone hand in hand with an increase in the importance of the parties. While congressmen represented more regional causes in the first 100 years of US history, party affiliation has become increasingly important as history has progressed. On average, the speaker terms of office have also become longer. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice president, who was previously a speaker, once put a special quip on the record: “I gave up the second most important job in the country to be FDR’s goddamn spare tire,” says John Garner.

You have to know these speakers: How successful a speaker’s term of office is depends on various factors. However, a positive relationship with the current White House resident helps. This was exemplified in the 1980s. The terms of office of the Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neil and the Republican President, Ronald Reagan, not only coincided in terms of time, but also in terms of content.

Important speakers in US history

Things were less harmonious in the decade that followed, as Republicans regained control. The new speaker Newt Gingrich trimmed his party on a confrontational course with Democratic President Bill Clinton. To this day, this period is considered the birth of the strong polarization in the US system.

Only once did a Speaker later become President: James Polk, in 1845. Nancy Pelosi is the only woman in the role so far. The recently resigned democrat from California was allowed to swing the famous speaker’s hammer for a relatively long time. In two separate periods, she made it to a total of eight years. Only four speakers were longer in office. The Democrat is probably unsurpassed Sam Rayburn remain. The Texan served for a total of 17 years between 1940 and 1970.

Donald Trump supports Kevin McCarthy

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Donald Trump with Kevin McCarthy in 2018.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The former president got involved in the debate about the speaker post. On the social media platform Truth Social, which he co-founded, Trump called on his party colleagues in the House of Representatives to elect Kevin McCarthy to the influential chief post.

“We had some really good talks last night and now it’s time for all of our great Republicans to vote for Kevin,” Trump wrote. He appealed to his party colleagues: “Do not turn a great triumph into a huge and embarrassing defeat.” McCarthy will do a good job, “and maybe even a great one.”

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