Have questions about the House Leadership election?

Some people online, in the news, and in conversations with me the last 24 hours have posed various questions along these lines:

  • Who will be the next Speaker?
  • What about Jim Jordan, Bryon Donalds, Steve Scalise, <<INSERT SOME OTHER NAMES IN HERE>>, do you want them to be Speaker? Which person do you want to be Speaker? What if it is McCarthy can you live with that?
  • Why are they doing this?
  • Don’t you think this is an embarrassment to the new majority?
  • Why have some House Freedom Caucus Members taken a stand and others have not?

Let me unpack some of these questions in case you, too, are asking them.

First, why have some but not all of the House Freedom Caucus not taken a stand for a change in leadership? The vote for Speaker of the House can be the single most risky vote for a Member of Congress to take. The first Member of Congress to vote against the “presumed speaker” is walking out on a limb and has no idea whether others will truly join or not. They have seen the kind of punishment wielded in the past to those who were willing to take this risk. Remember, Justin Amash was stripped of committee assignments and the Republican leadership campaigned heavily against Tim Hueslkamp to send a message that if a Member of Congress takes these kinds of votes, the leadership will work to vote you out of Congress. In other words, “Go along with us or get out of the way.” That makes these votes extremely risky.

Before the first vote for Speaker yesterday afternoon, some inside the House Republican Conference had already advocated for stripping anyone who did not vote for McCarthy of any committee assignments.

So, why are they doing this? Don’t you think this is an embarrassment to the new majority?

This is not a game. It’s about the future of our country. Some of these 20 Members of Congress have been working for a year to get structural and meaningful reforms to the procedures in the House of Representatives. I personally have been in meetings with several of them who have been working on this for the last year.

It is not an embarrassment. It is not chaos. It also is not fun, and it is a little painful to watch.

The Republican Majority in the House could pass 100 bills this week. What is going to happen to those bills? Will they become law with Schumer controlling the Senate and Biden in the White House? You know the answer to that as well as I do. Getting Biden to sign the laws 99.5% of us in this list want signed into law is highly unlikely to happen. Getting Schumer to take up bills the House passes will also be much harder to control.

For those of you who have been part of the tea party movement for the last 12 years, you know that usually the only time meaningful laws are passed are when the debt ceiling is reached or the end of the fiscal year happens (or the end of the arbitrary deadline for a continuing resolution is reached). So, it is highly unlikely that much meaningful legislation will pass into law until later this year as we get closer to the September 30 fiscal year deadline.

If, however, the Republican Majority, takes a little more time right now to get this right – ensuring the People’s House functions properly so the Representatives can represent the people – they will have a major accomplishment. They can show Americans what it means to legislate and debate. They can show America they care about their voters. Changing the rules of the House to make it less dysfunctional and more functional, is one of the very few things this particular slim majority can achieve. 

Please take a moment to consider that.

The decisions being made right now: who will be Speaker and what are procedures for the House of Representatives, that is one thing this Republican Majority can get right, and these decisions are some of the very few decisions completely within their control.

I do not know who the Speaker will be. I do not have a preference on who the Speaker ultimately winds up being. I have a preference on how the House functions, the rules and procedures. I have a preference on policy – I want conservative, constitutional policy proposals to at least be considered and debated. As for the who – to the extent that the Members of Congress – especially those on the Rules Committee and in “Leadership” must abide by the Rules and not set them aside, I do care about the who. Also, I also do not want any of the 20 Members who have voted against McCarthy punished for having the courage to advocate for meaningful changes to the House of Representatives. If it winds up being McCarthy and he agrees to meaningful changes and will not punish these 20, then that is better for America. If it is not McCarthy and we get meaningful changes and grudges on both sides of this debate are set aside, that is better for America.

I love this country. Like you, I want what is best for this country. Taking them to get this right (the Speaker and more importantly the Rules right) is best for our country. And, for those extremely concerned about what is best for the new Republican Majority, taking the time to get this right has the added side benefit of being good for the Republican majority.

I’m sure tempers are still flaring in that Conference. I hope and pray they can take a step back to think about what is best for America and how to House of Representatives to function as it was intended to function – with robust debate in the Chamber as Members advocate and represent their constituents.

The votes this week for or against the choice(s) for Speaker of the House are a vote about the courage to stand up and say, “We have to change the status quo in Washington, DC.” It is about being willing to risk it all for the sake of what is good for the country.

Please take the time first to pray for our country, and for all the Members of the House – especially those in the Republican Conference to have wisdom and discernment.

Then please, continue to make the calls to thank those 20 who have voted for a change in leadership. Please call your own representative and tell your representative to vote for a change in the status quo.

Finally, if you have not read the document the House Freedom Caucus wrote about how Congress functions (or does not function as the case may be), consider taking time to read it.