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The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

Future of House leadership hangs in the balance after unexpected removal: The search for a new Speaker brings more division to Congress

The+position+of+Speaker+of+the+House+sits+vacant+after+the+removal+of+Kevin+McCarthy+from+the+position.+Now%2C+House+members+work+to+elect+a+new+Speaker%2C+creating+more+division+and+conflict+in+the+legislature.
Owen Stoltz
The position of Speaker of the House sits vacant after the removal of Kevin McCarthy from the position. Now, House members work to elect a new Speaker, creating more division and conflict in the legislature.

In unprecedented fashion, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy was voted out by members of his own party on Oct. 3.

The longtime California legislator’s rise to speakership was long, but his downfall was swift.

Needing 15 rounds of voting across multiple days in January to gain the support needed to become speaker, McCarthy lost the role with one vote ending in a 216-210 defeat. All present house Democrats and seven Republicans voted in favor of his removal.

Orchestrating McCaarthy’s ouster was Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, citing McCarthy’s turn away from promises he made before he became the speaker. McCarthy had promised to move away from large omnibus spending bills and continuing resolutions and instead pass individual appropriations bills, but this was not the case.

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In both the debt ceiling situation in May and the narrowly avoided government shutdown in late September, McCarthy relied on working with Democrats or passing continuing resolutions to keep the country functioning. These bills included little to no increase in border security measures and few cuts in spending, which were features that many Republicans expected to see in legislation after gaining control of the House last year.

“Speaker McCarthy made an agreement with House conservatives in January. And, since then, he has been in brazen, repeated material breach of that agreement,” Gaetz accused prior to the vote.

Gaetz also claimed that many legislators have lost trust for McCarthy, referring to him as a “product of a corrupt system that rewards people who collect large sums of special interest money and then redistribute that money in exchange for political loyalty and political favors.”

McCarthy’s response to his removal was mixed, but he was adamant that he would not put his name in the hat for speaker again. On one hand, McCarthy stood behind his actions. “I may have lost a vote today, but I fought for what I believe in — and I believe in America. It has been an honor to serve,” he said. On the other hand, he attacked Gaetz and the other Republicans who voted against the majority of their party. “They are not conservatives, and they do not have the right to have the title,” McCarthy stated.

Senior Carl Rekow was honest in his assessment of the situation. As someone who stays away from politics because of the negativity that surrounds it, he does not find himself affected by the situation. “Honestly, I don’t care [about the speaker vacancy]. But it is frustrating to see the politicians in our nation squabble over who should sit in a chair vs the real issues plaguing our nation,” he stated.

On the other hand, senior Connor Schutte has been monitoring the situation and understands that the process to nominate and confirm a speaker will take time. “I think they [the House] could be doing better but what’s happening right now is most definitely acceptable and isn’t really anything new unfortunately…I just think they need to figure something out so we actually have one [a speaker],” he remarked.

Two weeks after the position opened, legislators began working to appoint a successor.

Although North Carolina representative Partick McHenry is serving as speaker pro tempore, the house cannot function without a speaker being elected.

Ohio congressman and Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan was the frontrunner on the Republican side, but his bid fell short. The first round of voting began on Tuesday, Oct. 18, with Jordan winning 200 of the required 217 votes.

While the House Democrats voted unanimously for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, some Republicans voted for candidates other than Jordan.

In the second round of voting on Wednesday, Oct. 19, Jordan lost two votes on the Republican side, putting him further from the nomination.

Unexpectedly, local Iowa representative and Republican Marionette Miller-Meeks was one of the members of her party that did not vote for Jordan in the second round of voting. After casting her vote for him on Tuesday, she chose to vote for Texas Representative and Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger on Wednesday.

Also unexpected was the backlash that Miller-Meeks faced. The congresswoman representing Iowa’s first district which includes the Quad Cities stated that she has received credible death threats and threatening calls since her vote.

Miller Meeks commented on the threats. “Someone who threatens another with bodily harm or tries to suppress differing opinions undermines opportunity for unity and regard for freedom of speech,” she said in a post on X.

The threatening nature of some of Jordan’s supporters, including fellow representatives, was one of the reasons why Miller-Meeks chose not to vote for him in the second round.

Rekow believes that the threats show more about the state of the country than just frustration over lack of a speaker. “It speaks a lot about the state of our nation and the polarization we have seen in recent years,” he said.

On Friday, Oct. 20, Jordan officially ended his speaker run after a third lost vote, this time by 25 votes. Since then, eight new Republicans have entered the race.

Schutte thinks that preparing in advance for such situations could be beneficial. “[The House should have] plans in place to make things go more efficiently. It’s a little too sluggish,” he said.

Although the future house speaker is unknown, the House must come together to swiftly elect a leader to get the government back on track before further complications arise.

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Owen Stoltz, Copy Editor
Owen Stoltz is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and a copy editor for the Spartan Shield. His passion is bass fishing and he competes in tournaments both locally and regionally for organizations such as Major League Fishing and Bassmaster. He is an aspiring marketing manager, hoping to work for a fishing industry company managing the professional staff. Due to his love of business, Owen has taken or is taking classes including Principles of Marketing, Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, and AP Macroeconomics. He also hopes to pursue a career as a professional bass fisherman. When he’s not on the water, Owen enjoys watching and playing other sports including football, basketball, golf, and wiffleball with his friends. Finally, he works at Dicks Sporting Goods House of Sport in the fishing department, passing his knowledge of the sport to others and supporting his fishing tackle buying habits. Owen can’t wait to write for the Spartan Shield this year!  
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