At The Hill, Donald Wolfensberger says that House Freedom Caucus members may withhold votes from Kevin McCarthy, forcing the election of a speaker to go to multiple ballots. The Caucus wants concessions that would decentralize power in the House.
Some observers have surmised that McCarthy is not about to cede most of the powers of a party and House leader after having fought hard to win majority control and the nomination for Speaker. Yet, he may have no alternative to making the most of the concessions being demanded. The price of gaining the power of the speakership may have to be a willingness to relinquish a substantial chunk of that power before even taking the oath of office. McCarthy could well end-up being one of the weakest Speakers in over a century…A power failure will only result in chaos leading to anarchy. The staid and solid old grandfather clock, with its swinging pendulum, could well end-up resembling more a cuckoo-clock.
Matt Glassman, who teaches in the CMC Washington Program, points to this observation in a CRS report: “The long-standing practice of the House is that electing a Speaker requires a numerical majorityof the votes cast by Members `for a person by name.’ This does not mean that an individual must necessarily receive a majority (currently 218) of the full membership of the House. This is because some Members may choose not to vote and others may answer “present.”
I can’t imagine it happening—what incentive do they have?—but one weird hypothetical in the Speaker election is a couple dozen Dems voting present to reduce the denominator and let McCarthy get over the top with less than 218 and a handful of GOP voting someone else. 1/
— Matt Glassman (@MattGlassman312) November 22, 2022