Georgia Southern professor discusses impacts of U.S. House struggling to elect Speaker

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:22 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Some are calling it a once-in-a-century fight because the last time the U.S. Speaker of the House was elected by multiple ballots was in 1923.

A sixth vote to elect nominee Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, failed this afternoon.

The House can not conduct any other business, including swearing in new members, until a Speaker has been elected.

Dr. Kimberly Martin with Georgia Southern University says there’s been multiple ballots for speaker only 15 times in our country’s history – 13 of those times predate the Civil War.

Dr. Martin says this could have serious implications on the future of the Republican Party this session.

“If Representative McCarthy is able to become Speaker of the House, how will he then relate to those members of the conservative caucus that he wasn’t able to get votes from in the beginning? That really makes a difference. It also shows this group of republicans that they do have bargaining power. It’s unlikely that Rep. McCarthy will be able to get to the number he needs to become speaker unless he makes some concessions to this group,” said Dr. Martin.

Dr. Kimberly Martin also says this may take longer than many had expected.

“I don’t think this is going to get resolved today. There’s going to have to be a lot more effort put in from Kevin McCarthy’s group and his allies to either switch votes or come to some deal in order to get this group of republicans to vote for him.”

That group, of about 20 conservatives, has continually put up their own candidate, pulling votes away from Rep. McCarthy.

“This sort of starts a precedent for this group to be able to get things they want down the road, because they realize that they’re now able to negotiate with Rep. McCarthy to get what they want in the end.”

South Carolina Republican Representative Nancy Mace, who has consistently voted for McCarthy over the past two days , tweeted her frustrations with the vote saying, “It’s time to declare victory, close the border, hold the Administration accountable and deliver on a fiscally conservative agenda putting every American first -- But we can’t do that if our fiscally conservative agenda continues to be held hostage.”

Georgia Republican Representative Buddy Carter, who has also voted for McCarthy, in a statement to WTOC says, “I will support McCarthy as long as it takes and urge our Conference to come together so we can start delivering on the Commitment to America.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Martin says this vote could create a bumpy road through the rest of this session.

“There definitely could be some damage done by making it difficult for there to be some cohesion in the republican party. You don’t want to go into a speakership knowing there’s a group of people that are against your decisions right from the get-go.”

Dr. Martin says this could go on for several more days, or even weeks.