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Questions That Will Drive Who Republicans Choose to Nominate for Speaker

Now that a motion to vacate the chair has officially removed the Speaker from his elected leadership position, House Republicans have the difficult task of finding a candidate that will garner enough support to elect a new Speaker. They will take a break for the rest of the week to allow candidates to emerge and to begin the behind-the-scenes conversations that traditionally surround a leadership election. Here are the core questions House Republicans will weigh in picking their next Speaker:

Who Wants This Job: Without question, Republican Members of Congress that would be effective as Speaker of the House will pass on running for the job to avoid the constant threat of being ousted by a small minority of Republican policymakers. The growing trend for Republican Speakers - most recently John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and now Kevin McCarthy - is having to face more pressure internally from Republicans than from policymakers across the aisle. It is simply not a good position for most (if not all) Republican policymakers.

Who Can Win 218 Votes: The next Speaker will need 218 votes to win. While that was once a fairly easy threshold for anyone in the majority, there is no easy vote for Speaker these days. A core consideration will be around electability and having a path to victory without a long, multi-ballot vote. Policymakers will want to move a Speaker vote on the floor knowing that they will win on the first ballot and not risk more public division. This will be tougher than it sounds and may take some additional time.

Who Can Unify the Conference: The divisions within the Republican conference are an ongoing risk for both their agenda and their campaigns. Republicans will want their next Speaker to be someone who can help bring the conference together and not be entirely aligned with one faction or another. While that may be an impossible task with the existing narrow majority, they will certainly want the new Speaker to assume office with a unified conference.

Who Can Advance Policy: There is a lot on the Congressional agenda for the remainder of the year with significant policy hurdles to overcome. The next Speaker will need to navigate legislative complexities, especially given more deadlines on the horizon including government funding that expires on November 17th.

Who Can Work with Democrats, the White House, and the Senate: The Speaker of the House cannot operate without working with their Democratic counterparts, the Senate, and the President. While much of that may be done behind the scenes, it is a vital role of the job and cannot (or should not) be avoided. Major bills will be negotiated in the coming months and that requires a Speaker to work with the other players within the policy ecosystem.

The Republicans have a difficult job ahead in finding and electing their new leader. A delay may help bring some calm, but the underlying issues any Speaker will need to address - especially those internal to the Republican conference - will still be alive and well when they reconvene next week.


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