October 9, 2015

Is There a Speaker in the House?

Great balcony. Wonderful guests. But that's not enough, it seems, to get a Speaker.  

Crying John Boehner doesn't want the job anymore; he announced that right after he hosted Pope Francis on the balcony.

Kevin McCarthy doesn't want the job anymore. McCarthy was next to Boehner, not crying at the time but almost certainly doing that now, especially after his confession about the Benghazi committee being a 'defeat Hillary' plot, and allegations of an extra-marital affair with a fellow Representative.

Paul Ryan is the front-runner for a job he doesn't want. He'd much rather be Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, which is probably a more important role than Speaker of the House, even though the office is less ostentatious. 

Actually, the only people so far who want to be Speaker are the ones who likely can't get enough votes to actually win the job -- and they're also the ones behind Boehner stepping down in the first place. 

Members of the Freedom Caucus, the 40-odd rightest of the right wing, have created a questionnaire for potential Speaker candidates, and that might be the reason why people don't want to play. Among the issues addressed in the questionnaire:
  • making sure that conservatives have appropriate representation on House committees and some changes to House rules allowing for more transparency
  • ensuring that conservative members are not retaliated against - stripped of committee spots, for example - if they don't toe the line 
  • ensuring that amendments put forth by the conservatives are accommodated (even though they will almost certainly doom legislation)
  • supporting another vote to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act by the end of 2015
  • putting forth budget bills which include 'structural entitlement reform' and which defund Planned Parenthood, the ACA, immigration amnesty, and the Iran nuclear treaty
  • impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen
  • support for the First Amendment Defense Act, which allows the federal government to be sued for damages if a person (and by that I mean person, corporation, not for profit organization church or any other entity that can hold a personal belief) if said person believes they were discriminated against because of the opposition to marriage equality
While some of what they're asking about seems reasonable - committee representation, transparency, and the like -- what they're also asking for is the Speaker to relinquish power, commit to unpassable legislation, refuse to engage with the other side of the aisle, and so on. In effect, they want a Speaker who listens only to them.  

Is it any wonder no one wants the job?

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