By Darsh Mirchandani
Typically, following an election, the speaker of the House is elected biennially with the speaker vote beginning on January 3 at noon. This year, for the first time in a century, the House of Representatives had failed to elect a new speaker of the House based on the first ballot. As a result, the 118th Congress is expected to face two years of controversy, instability and political drama.
The House of Representatives took five days and fifteen ballots to elect Speaker Kevin McCarthy. This is largely due to the fact that Kevin McCarthy faced heavy opposition from right-wing conservatives. At the center of the crusade against McCarthy were the five “Never Kevin” members. These members include representatives Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Bob Good (R-VA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Matt Rosendale (R-MT) and Ralph Norman (R-SC). These members had submitted a list of demands to Kevin McCarthy, essentially holding the speaker election hostage. One of the most controversial of these demands was making the process for ejecting a sitting speaker easier. As opposed to previous rules that required a majority of the party to bring a motion to vacate to the floor, Kevin McCarthy conceded and agreed to decrease the requirement to one member. Some Republicans are worried that this rule change could lead to an increase in power struggles and further instability in the House.
“Honestly I found the speakership vote humorous. After 15 votes and a multitude of messy negotiations, Kevin McCarthy finally ‘won’ the speakership but it was more like they settled for him,” junior Guneet Hanjra said.
“The election of Kevin McCarthy to the speaker of the House position was definitely more turbulent than some past elections to the speakership in recent memory. It allowed us to realize that sometimes the democratic process can be a little sloppy in some cases but is still the most effective process we have,” social studies teacher Mr. Kern said.
Post-speakership election, the 118th Congress is facing a great divide in beliefs and opinions. Many republicans feel as if Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) should be removed from her position on the Foreign Affairs Committee. One reason stated is that Rep. Omar has been perceived by some as antisemitic. The House voted to remove Rep. Omar from her committee assignment along party lines. Some Democrats have expressed outrage stating that this is an act of political revenge rather than one of justice.
Artwork by Suha Tasfia
With the election of the new speaker, there has been an increased divide among the members of the House.
As disagreements in the House of Representatives become more prominent, they have become a part of some discussions in school, both inside and outside the classroom setting. One example of such discussions inside a classroom setting can be found with AP Government and Politics.
“Discussions in AP Government and Politics were focused on the division in the country as the whole but as well as in the Republican Party as represented in the predicament in the speakership election. Our job as social studies teachers is not to teach students what to think but rather teach them how to think,” social studies chairperson Mr. Galvin said.
With the Republican majority in the House of Representatives being so slim, the result has been lots of instability and bickering among those who govern our country. As a result, the House of Representatives will most likely remain in the limelight and remain a common topic of discussion.