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House may hold third-round speaker vote today, but path to a majority is rocky


The House of Representatives is expected to hold a vote today on the third round of speakers for the 115th Congress, but the path to a majority is unlikely. The vote, being held by the Republican majority, is expected to fall along party lines and it is unclear if a majority of the full chamber will approve the nomination of Iowa congressman Steve King.

This is not the first time that the House has had to go to a third ballot for speaker selection. According to the Rules of the House, votes for speaker must be held on the first three ballots; if a single candidate fails to secure a majority, then the election process moves to successive ballots until a majority is achieved.

In the most recent instance of a multi-ballot speaker election, the House took three votes before retiring Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was elected speaker in 2015. Negotiations between the two major party caucuses and the controversial selection of individual lawmakers to serve on a panel that will oversee the transition between the outgoing and incoming speaker have made King’s nomination difficult this time around.

To secure his nomination, King will need to win the support of at least half of the members present and voting for him to reach a majority. Even if he is able to win the majority of votes, it is likely that some Republican members of Congress will refuse to vote for the conservative congressman.

If King cannot secure a majority, the House will proceed with additional ballots in an attempt to find a consensus candidate. As was seen with the 2015 election, this process could go on for several weeks or more.

At the same time, the vote serves as a reminder of how important it is for the House to reach agreement on a speaker in a timely manner. As the House is now facing a shut-down of its operations while the speaker election stalls, lawmakers must come together quickly in order to avoid further disruption of business.

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