Parker reacts—Speaker of the House was chosen on the 15th Vote


Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

On April 1, 1789, the role of Speaker of the House was created, and Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected. His job as the political and parliamentary leader of the House of Representatives was to maintain order, manage the proceedings in law, and govern the goods and services of federal states. Since then, we have had 54 House Speakers. 

On January 7, 2023, Kevin McCarthy led the Republican Party. He was elected as the new House Speaker by gaining a narrow chamber majority. This election process started on January 3 and stopped after fifteen rounds of voting. 

Francis W. Parker is a diverse community. There is a variety of faculty and students with different perspectives and opinions on political topics and events. To capture an adult and faculty view, I spoke with history teacher Kevin Conlon on how he feels about the election.

“It was very interesting to watch, and I felt real discomfort that there are people who got elected that sort of didn’t want to play ball,” Conlon said. “They decided they were trying to win concessions to benefit themselves or arguably their constituents and not be good team players for the parties, so to speak.” 

The House of Representatives elects its Speaker at the beginning of a new Congress when a speaker dies, resigns, or when removed from the position mid-term. Commonly, each party caucus in the United States Congress chooses a candidate before roll call. Since 1839, the House has elected speakers by roll call vote. To be elected Speaker, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes cast. This year, 218 votes out of all 485 members were needed. If no candidate wins the majority of the votes, the roll call is repeated until a Speaker is elected. Before this election, multiple roll calls had happened 14 times; it last occurred in December 1923, when a divided House needed nine ballots to elect Frederick H. Gillett as a speaker. 

“This is the first time in a long time this has happened,” freshman Lula Notz said. “This is because finding one candidate to satisfy all of these different parties is almost impossible.”  Notz believes that the voting process was almost guaranteed to take longer than it had in the past few years. She also mentioned that this would be a significant change considering how well Nancy Pelosi did as Democratic Speaker of the House for nearly two decades.  

“I think that this does represent that we should make it harder for these politicians to get these elected positions,”  Notz said. “It seems almost as though this is such an important role in the government, and it takes one vote to get someone there.”

 There were a few other nominees for the Republican party as holdouts to derail Kevin McCarthy and Hakeem Jeffries for the Democratic party.

“I think that this represents that we should make it harder for people to get these elected positions,” Notz said. “There is this conservative part of the government that has almost fun upending, normal operations of the government. They just like disruption and causing a mess of things.”

Similar to Notz, sophomore Sloane Demetriou fears for the future within the House. “The way that it’s been over 100 years since something like this has happened doesn’t just speak to the current political climate, but also the messy government running it,” Demetriou said. People in their own party can’t even agree!”

“There is no sense of security at all in the House, especially if it takes more than ten votes, nevertheless one to elect a speaker,” Demetriou said.