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Tom Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota, is now the latest Speaker Designate of the US House. The vote comes exactly three weeks after eight house Republicans voted to oust Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.
Ever since, the US House has remained effectively shut down, and the position second-in-line to the Presidency remains vacant.
Two speaker designates, Steve Scalise (LA) and Jim Jordan (OH), failed to gain the 217 votes needed to take the gavel. Now, Republicans hope their third time working to selecting a Speaker in as many weeks will prove to be the charm.
Emmer, a staunch conservative, is seen by many moderate Republicans and some Democrats as the most sensible choice.
The current majority whip, Emmer is skilled in counting votes before they come to the House floor. He was one of just two candidates for Speaker that voted to certify the 2020 Presidential Election.
Before that vote, however, Emmer did sign on to the Texas amicus brief that sought to overturn the election results in key states.
Emmer for House Speaker? A history of bi-partisanship
Still, Emmer has a history of supporting bi-partisan legislative efforts. He voted to avoid a government shutdown in September, supported Ukraine aid and helped pass the Respect for Marriage Act last year.
The Respect for Marriage Act codified gay marriage and interracial marriage nationwide.
Emmer also voted to raise the debt ceiling to avoid default over the summer and supported the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
But these same potential House Speaker votes that make Emmer palatable to the center could also make him toxic to the right.
When asked by CNN’s Manu Raju, Representative Rick Allen of Georgia said he was “very concerned” by Emmer’s support of the Respect for Marriage Act.
“Is there any way you would vote for him?” Raju asked Rep. Allen after one of today’s votes.
“No.” Allen responded before walking away.
Some Democrats appear open to negotiating in order to get the US House back open
The seemingly immovable divisions among House Republicans make it increasingly likely that Emmer, or any Speaker Designate, would need bi-partisan support to win the seat.
Some Democrats have privately and publicly suggested they would “sit out” the Speaker vote if Emmer became the nominee.
Doing so, or voting “present”, would lower the winning number from 217, making it easier for Emmer to become Speaker.
“The dysfunction in the House is a national and global security issue,” Democratic Representative Dean Phillips wrote on X (Twitter).
“I would sit out the Speaker vote if Tom Emmer will fund our government at negotiated levels, bring Ukraine and Israel aid bills to the floor, and commit to rules changes to make Congress work for the people,” Phillips wrote, hinting at a potential compromise.
It is now up to Emmer to decide when to bring a vote for Speaker to the House floor. That vote could happen as early as today.
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