House May Not Be Able to Elect a New Speaker
Conservative bloc holds the trump cards, writes Russell Berman
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2015 9:46 AM CDT
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and outgoing Speaker John Boehner.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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(Newser) – Rep. Kevin McCarthy is the heavy favorite to be the next House speaker, but he's got a big math problem at the moment: When the full House votes on Oct. 29, he needs 218 ayes—and a group of about 30 conservative Republicans can prevent him from getting there, writes Russell Berman in the Atlantic. That raises the possibility that the House will be unable to elect a speaker and thus could become "institutionally paralyzed" for weeks or even months despite a host of pressing issues. One scenario is that John Boehner will stay on until a new leader is elected, instead of resigning on Oct. 30 as planned, notes the Hill.

That would be a "nightmare scenario" for Republicans and the House, which hasn't needed multiple ballots to elect a speaker since 1923, writes Berman. Conservative Jason Chaffetz is running a long-shot candidacy against McCarthy, but his prospects of actually winning are all but nil. Berman's piece suggests a way out of the mess: Conservatives will wring enough concessions out of House leaders—key committee posts, etc.—in exchange for their support of McCarthy's speakership before the House vote. (Click to read the full post. McCarthy hasn't helped his own cause with his Hillary Clinton comments.)