House Speaker vote is historic but frustrating for NC Congressman waiting to be sworn in

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Friday, January 6, 2023
House Speaker vote historic but frustrating for NC Congressman-elect
The longest House Speaker vote was in 1856 when the 34th Congress required two months and 133 votes to come to a decision.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the showdown on Capitol Hill continues for House Speaker, there's been no shortage of frustration playing out behind the scenes.

"McCarthy keeps falling about 20 votes short," said Congressman-elect Jeff Jackson, D-NC 14 via social media. "So I'm on the House floor with my three kids and after a few hours of this, it's pretty clear we are not going to elect a Speaker. After a while, my kids are asleep in the seats next to me. the House floor is full of kids by the way because that's what this day is supposed to be about."

Jackson gave his perspective in a video, describing the process of each election as painfully slow:

"McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes, Jackson said. "If he loses the fifth vote, that means he's failed the vote.

Well, he's losing his fifth vote by the time we get to the letter C. And then it takes another hour and a half to read the rest of the names. And then, they announced that he is officially falling short, and he orders a new vote.

And we do it again and again and again. He keeps falling short by the same amount and here's why: this group of about 20 holdouts."

While McCarthy has made concessions to try to win enough holdouts over, no deal has been reached.

The last time the House needed more ballots to choose a speaker was before the Civil War.

"It's been about 100 years since we've had multiple ballots, and the issue then was slavery," said Dr. David McLennan, Professor of Political Science at Meredith College in Raleigh.

"I think the simplest explanation is that the Republicans are fundamentally divided," McLennan said.

The division means no work is getting done.

"Technically, we have no U.S. House of Representatives," McLennan said. "Because the first task of the Speaker is to swear people into office. And, so without members being sworn in, there can be no hearings, there'll be no votes; nothing goes on in the House. And, the Senate needs the House and obviously, the three branches of government need a functioning Legislative Branch

There is no limit to how many elections the House can have for a Speaker.

The last time this happened was a century ago in 1923 when it took the House nine rounds.

The longest was in 1856 when the 34th Congress required two months and 133 votes to come to a decision.