House

Democrat unveils bill to allow only House members to serve as Speaker

A new bill introduced on Monday by Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) would allow only an elected House member to serve as Speaker after former President Trump called the suggestion that he seek the gavel “so interesting.”

The Constitution does not directly state that the House Speaker must be a member of the chamber, but to date, the role has never been filled by an outsider.

Boyle argued that the statute should be made clear, even if electing someone outside of Congress to serve as Speaker remains a long shot. His bill, titled the Mandating That Being an Elected Member Be an Essential Requirement for Speakership Act, would explicitly limit eligibility to current House lawmakers.

“The Speaker of the U.S. House is second in the United States presidential line of succession. That Donald Trump’s name would even be tossed around as a potential speaker in the people’s house, should serve as an alarm bell that our current requirements need to be amended in the name of protecting our nation and our democracy,” Boyle said in a statement.

While all Speakers in U.S. history have been incumbent members of the House, any lawmaker can nominate whomever they wish during the roll call at the start of each session of Congress to elect the chamber’s top-ranking leader.

In recent years, some lawmakers who didn’t want to vote for their party’s leader have opted to nominate outsiders.

In January 2019, for example, two Democrats voted for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), another voted for now-President Biden, and yet another voted for voting rights activist and 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

And at the start of the current session of Congress in January, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted for Duckworth, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) cast his vote for House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), and Democratic Reps. Mikie Sherrill (N.J.), Elissa Slotkin (Mich.) and Abigail Spanberger (Va.) voted “present” instead of endorsing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Trump last month was asked about the idea of him running for the House next year to try to win the Speaker’s gavel during a radio show appearance.

“That’s so interesting,” he said in response to far-right radio host Wayne Allyn Root, noting that others had suggested he run for Senate. “But you know what, your idea might be better. It’s very interesting.”

Trump, who has floated another potential run for the White House in 2024, later said through a spokesman that he does not want to hold the gavel.

“[Trump] has zero desire to be Speaker,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller told Punchbowl News.

While a handful of Democrats cast votes for people other than Pelosi in January, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not face any defections from Republicans at the time.

Tags Abigail Spanberger Donald Trump Elissa Slotkin Hakeem Jeffries House Speaker Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Mikie Sherrill Nancy Pelosi Speaker election Tammy Duckworth

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