Politics

We Asked Experts to Choose the Next House Speaker. Their Answers Were, Uh, Interesting


Brian Fitzpatrick

REPUBLICAN U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania

In terms of parliamentary intrigue, it’s the simplest scenario: Get a (relatively) moderate Republican who can bring a half-dozen votes with him, organize the House around getting a few essential things done and then enjoy the accolades from the Beltway establishment — because they’re all you’ve got left now that you’ve committed GOP suicide. Unfortunately, that last bit tends to trip up most ambitious sitting pols. But should it? Back in the closely divided legislature of Fitzpatrick’s home state this month, an independent-minded Democrat rode a GOP nomination to the speaker’s job. Maybe the spectacle could inspire Fitzpatrick, who represents a purple district outside Philadelphia. —Michael Schaffer, senior editor at VFAB

Mark Amodei

REPUBLICAN U.S. Representative for Nevada

Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei is the perfect choice. He has been in the House since 2011, so he has the experience. He has been there a lot longer than Kevin Hern! Few can match Amodei’s credentials: He’s from a swing state. He’s whip-smart. And he’s funny as hell, which that body sorely needs. What’s more, his legendary circumlocutions will make all factions think he is one of them. Oh, and one more thing: If he decides to run for the Senate in ’24, all of the other ambitious caucus members will only have to wait a couple of years. —Jon Ralston, CEO of the Nevada Independent

Rep. James Clyburn

DEMOCRATIC Former House Whip

Despite Freedom Caucus supporters banning Black history in schools, the House Freedom Caucus demagogued Black history, invoking Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass, to nominate under-experienced Rep. Byron Donald (R-Fl) for speaker. But based on a serious reading of GOP history and Black history, I would nominate former House Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC). After all, the first African American to be seated in Congress and the first to preside over the House was another Black South Carolinian, the Republican and Reconstruction era congressman, Joseph H. Rainey. Rainey was a Jack Kemp Republican a half century before Kemp was born — pro-economic opportunity, pro-education and pro-civil rights. Similarly, Clyburn is bipartisan, pro-economic opportunity, pro-education and pro-civil rights. Rainey and Clyburn were effective. Since no Black Congressional Republicans are yet qualified and no other Republicans seem willing, why not a qualified Southern Black Democrat who can actually work with Republicans? Clyburn is more qualified and less hated than any candidate the Freedom Caucus can think of or blurt into a microphone. If the Freedom Caucus has enough sense to namecheck Black history, they can learn from it as well. —Cornell William Brooks, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and former president of the NAACP

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How about everyone?

When the Israeli elections don’t produce a clear winner, occasionally the only way a coalition government can be formed is for two parties to take turns serving as prime minister. Such a rotation government is presently in place in Ireland. Today’s House appears to be in a similar predicament. Republicans nominally have a thin majority but internal divisions are denying them a working majority. Why not give the various factions of the House, in both parties, a turn with the gavel over the course of the next two years? Kevin McCarthy has dubbed his conference factions the “Five Families,” so let’s take one from each: Kevin Hern, chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee; Dusty Johnson, chair of the pragmatic Republican Main Street Caucus; Dave Joyce, chair of the pragmatic Republican Governance Group; Brian Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus; and Lauren Boebert of the loosely organized far-right House Freedom Caucus. Since the House has a bare Republican majority, let’s give Democrats four: Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Ed Case, chair of the budget-minded Blue Dog Coalition; Annie Kuster, chair of the business-oriented New Democrat Coalition; and Ilhan Omar of the unofficial left-wing Squad. Each speaker would get roughly 80 days with the gavel. Let’s just try to time it so Boebert doesn’t have it when we reach the deadline to raise the debt limit. —Bill Scher, podcaster and VFAB Magazine contributing writer

THE RETIRED POLS

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