Speaker of the House … for a while?

43With John Boehner’s announced resignation, there will be a vote on his replacement as House Speaker this coming Thursday. Such votes have happened infrequently in the past. In the last 26 years, there have been only five Speakers. But I suspect that we are entering an entirely new era.

Both parties have vast chasms that divide their caucuses, but this is most notable for Republicans who now hold sway in the House and who probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This means that each significant bill represents a possibility for a challenge to the Speaker. His decisions to bring up a bill and to specify how it is managed on the floor will no doubt provoke opposition and, in the current climate, perhaps a challenge to his position. In the near future, this will include bills to continue government funding, raise the debt limit, reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, extend vital business tax provisions, and deal with transportation infrastructure. It only takes a few dissidents to enter a motion to vacate the chair. Just the threat of this was influential in Boehner’s decision to leave.

The Speaker’s Lobby, just off the House floor, contains portraits of all 61 Speakers thus far. I don’t think there is sufficient wall space there to handle the coming flood.


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