It’s now been three weeks since the U.S. House of Representatives had a speaker, and Republicans are no closer to having a new leader today than they were on Oct. 4, the day Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the role.
Republicans on Tuesday nominated House Majority Whip Tom Emmer for speaker out of a slate of seven candidates. But it’s unclear whether he can earn the 217 votes necessary to win the speakership when his candidacy goes to a vote by the full House. More than two dozen Republicans say they would not vote for Emmer, Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman tweeted in the early afternoon on Oct. 24. That’s far more than the four GOP votes Emmer could afford to lose and still become speaker.
The infighting is so entrenched that Republicans say they may need Democratic votes to help install a speaker.
“They don’t want to work with Democrats, but it might end up to be a point where that’s the only way,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), according to CNN’s Manu Raju. “We’ve got to get the government open. People are very angry, upset.”
Each day the House remains leaderless is another day that lawmakers are unable to do critical work needed to keep the government running.
The most immediate issue is that the federal government is set to run out of money after Nov. 17.
House Republicans agreed to pass a stopgap funding bill on Sept. 30 to give themselves time to pass individual funding bills. However, just four days after passing that measure, the House’s work ground to a halt following McCarthy’s ouster.
Without a speaker, no bills can be brought to the floor for a vote. That means none of the eight individual appropriations bills the House still needs to pass have been voted on. What’s more, the four appropriations bills that had passed before the speakership debacle would make major cuts to spending and are nonstarters in the Senate, meaning Congress is still at square one of the funding process.
It’s unclear whether a new speaker will have the political capital to put another stopgap funding bill up for a vote, given that it was McCarthy’s decision to prevent a government shutdown with a short-term funding bill that contributed to his ouster in the first place.
If the farm bill expires on Dec. 31, subsidies for crops and dairy products will expire. That means farmers may be forced to raise prices, WFYI public radio in Indianapolis reported.
As for the FAA, Congress passed a short-term bill that authorized federal aviation programs until Dec. 31. If it cannot agree to authorize the FAA again after that date, the implementation of safety measures and regulations that protect air travelers could come to a stop, Politico reported.
On top of all of that, President Joe Biden has asked Congress to pass a $105 billion aid package for Ukraine and Israel. Ukraine has been fighting a defensive war against Russia since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, while the latest war between Israel and Hamas militants continues after Hamas militants killed 1,400 people on Israeli territory and took more than 100 people hostage on Oct. 7.
“Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy — completely annihilate it,” Biden said Oct. 19 in an Oval Office address.
Biden added that Americans have an interest in aiding both Ukraine’s and Israel’s fights: “History has taught us that when terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction. They keep going, and the cost and the threats to America and to the world keep rising.”
Democrats, who have voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) in every speaker vote, are criticizing Republicans for not picking a speaker and reopening the House.
“The do-nothing Republican Congress continues to hurt the American people,” Jeffries tweeted on Tuesday. “It’s time for Extreme MAGA Republicans to end the chaos and reopen the House.”