Behind the Scenes in Race for Speaker of the House

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An eyewitness account from Capitol Hill courtesy of AAPS’ boots-on-the-ground on Capitol Hill, our DC Counsel Charles Sauer of The Market Institute:

Just a week ago, Congress was moving in the same direction that it always moves. However, that surprisingly changed this week.

The nearly uncontested heir to the throne, Congressman Boehner’s vacated role as Speaker of the House, was Kevin McCarthy. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy represents California’s 23rd district and he was first elected to Congress in 2006. By almost any definition his rise through the party’s ranks have been meteoric. However, that all changed this week when he abruptly withdrew from the Speaker’s race.

It is currently still unclear what the specific reasons for Congressman McCarthy’s last minute withdrawal from the race, but it was due at least in part due to the group of 40 members that vowed to vote for Congressman Daniel Webster.

The process to elect the Speaker is complicated and requires near unanimous consent by the Republicans, and that support was a problem for Congressman McCarthy. Moments before the Congressman withdrew from the election the Republicans were at a lunch where the plan was to vote for the Republican nominee for Speaker. McCarthy had enough votes to easily win the nomination within the conference, however, that vote was only one of two needed to become Speaker. The second vote is a vote of the full House, so the next Speaker needs 218 votes to become Speaker and the Republican majority consists of 247 members. That means that the list of 40 Republican members that vowed to support Congressman Webster could have caused real havoc on the House floor.

Recognizing his problem, McCarthy withdrew. Recognizing that nobody else in the race had 218 votes either Speaker Boehner adjourned the meeting of the Caucus with unanimous consent.

So, the Republicans need to elect a Speaker that can unite the establishment with the rest of the party. The first candidate floated has been Congressman Paul Ryan. He has long been considered a threat to Leadership, but in recent years has grown closer to them as well. This unique perspective along with the respect that both sides makes Congressman Ryan a very possible choice. But, at this point Congressman Ryan is still turning down the idea of a nomination.

Many members are still coming to terms with the idea that Congressman Congressman McCarthy is out. This was almost impossible to fathom just a few days ago, but the real problem is that any path forward is also hard to identify.

AAPS will continue to fight for strong leadership that will help strengthen the patient physician relationship.

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