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Breaking news: Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader who recently announced his candidacy for Speaker to replace John Boehner, just announced that he has withdrawn his candidacy after apparently being unable to muster the 218 votes needed to be elected Speaker, with 30 or so "Freedom Caucus" members of his party refusing to support him. These 30+ "bomb-throwers", whose only purpose for being in Congress is to destroy it, have thrown it into turmoil.

Kevin McCarthy Withdraws

Kevin McCarthy Withdraws: House on Fire!—Ted Vaill

The Speaker of the House is second in the line of succession to the Presidency, after the Vice President. It is unacceptable to have someone in this position who is irresponsible and might blunder the U.S. into a worldwide nuclear war. Amazingly enough, the Constitution allows an individual to be appointed Speaker who is not even a current member of the House of Representatives. It is also possible that a Democrat could be elected Speaker by a majority of the Members of Congress (fat chance: Nancy Pelosi has already said the Republicans cannot count on any support from them).

Amazingly enough, the Constitution allows an individual to be appointed Speaker who is not even a current member of the House of Representatives.

If 30 to 40 Tea Party conservative Congressman refuse to vote for any Speaker unless that person is one of their own, such as Florida Congressman Daniel Webster, who threw his three-cornered hat into the ring for the job, in addition to BYU placekicker and Planned Parenthood abuser Jason Chaffetz (the only other currently announced candidates), there could be a long period of extreme turmoil in the House. Ahead are key votes on the debt ceiling next month, the transportation bill, and the entire federal budget for this year, which must become law by December 11, 2015 to avoid another government shutdown.

Here are the alternatives:

  1. Speaker John Boehner could decide to stay on past his announced retirement date, October 30, 2015, through the end of the current term of Congress in January, 2017, or until a successor is elected;
  1. An interim Speaker, such as Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, might be picked, but it is pretty clear that the Tea Party conservatives have already announced that he is not supported by them;
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  1. A darkhorse could emerge from the Republican ranks, such as Speaker Dennis Hastert did in 1999 when Newt Gingrich resigned due to a sex scandal, as did his announced successor, Tom Livingston of Louisiana, after he was also tainted by a sex scandal (Hastert, now retired, has his own sex scandal going on right now), such as House Budget Chairman Tom Price of North Carolina, or Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas;
  1. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP's Vice Presidential candidate in the last election, could be convinced by Boehner to take the Speaker job that he has emphatically said he does not want;
  1. The GOP caucus in the House could reach outside the current House membership, to such GOP luminaries as Senator Ted Cruz (Oh! the Horror!), or a retired Senator or House member, or even Donald Trump. (The House has never gone outside its current membership to find a Speaker, but there is no prohibition against it in the Constitution.)

Another option would be to elect a Speaker with a vote of less than a majority of House members, essentially throwing the 30-40 Tea Party members of the Freedom Caucus under the bus. There is nothing that prohibits a Speaker to be elected by less than a majority, but there is a strong protocol calling for a majority, and the person elected Speaker with less than a majority would be greatly weakened.

A further option would be to kick the members of Tea Party caucus out of the House, as violating their oath of office to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States", or to indict them for sedition if they force the default of the U.S. debt by failing to raise the debt ceiling next month. That would leave their seats in Congress vacant until the next election (or by-election), thereby reducing the number of Representatives constituting a majority to a lower number than 218.

Or the Tea Party Caucus could leave the Republican Party and form a Freedom Party, a third party force that would have to be brought into a coalition to form a majority to pass legislation, unless a number of Democrats joined the remaining Republicans to form a majority to pass specific legislation.

ted vaill

Ted Vaill