Front Page Talking Points


Drama in Congress as Republican mutiny unseats the House speaker, leaving chamber 'frozen'


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The House of Representatives is leaderless after a power struggle among Republicans, halting legislative business in that branch of Congress. Eight party rebels led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida voted to unseat Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from his role last week. All Democrats backed their no-confidence motion, a historic 216-210 vote that's the first of its kind.

The next speaker will be elected by all members, and jockeying is under way among Republicans. They have a 10-seat House majority, so the replacement will be from their party. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., a temporary leader, has called for members to vote this Wednesday on the next speaker. "The fight over the speakership is unlikely to be quick," predicts prominent blogger Heather Cox Richardson, a Boston College historian. New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg writes: "However the race shakes out, we can be fairly sure that the House will be a mess for the foreseeable future."

As a condition for becoming speaker in January after 15 rounds of voting across four days, McCarthy accepted a new rule letting one member file a motion to vacate the top job. The unprecedented situation provokes uncertainty, speculation and opinion. "The House of Representatives is effectively frozen," says Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. "We're not able to actually advance legislation. We can't even refer bills to committee." Another dismayed Republican congressman, Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, says: "Frankly, one has to wonder whether the House is governable at all."

Some moderate Republicans want to drop the new rule that lets any member call a vote to remove the House leader. "That needs to go," urges Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y. "That rule needs to change as part of any choice for speaker." The Republican Main Street Caucus, a group of more than 70 members, call the rule a "chokehold on this body." And on the Democratic side, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York tweets: "You can't allow a small band of . . . extremists to run the House or the country."

Republican says: "I think Matt [Gaetz] would be a great dictator in a small island nation in the Pacific or something. That's probably the best next step for him." – Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana

Professor says: "There's absolutely no precedents on any of this because this hasn’t happened before." – Josh Chafetz, Georgetown University Law Center

Journalist says: "To succeed as legislators, they needed cohesion, discipline and leadership. Instead, they produced chaos." – Dan Balz, The Washington Post

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2024

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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.