The House of Representatives has been in disarray this term. The point of the House is to create laws, and this is a task that this particular House has been failing at, spectacularly. This Congress has been rated as the second least productive in American history, and new developments suggest that this pattern of inactivity is likely to continue.

A House in Chaos

The current Congress has been in disarray since day one. The first order of business of the House of Representatives after seating all new members is to choose a Speaker of the House and vote him or her into office, and this is where the House met the first stumbling block.

Source: Wikimedia/Voice of America

Kevin McCarthy, former representative of California, had made his ambitions to take the Speaker’s chair clear from the moment that it was certain that Republicans were going to take back the house after midterms. As a member of Congress for nearly twenty years, he was certainly one of the most senior Republicans for the job.

A Lack of “True Conservative Values”

However, for some members of the House, McCarthy simply wasn’t the right man for the job. Particularly for the Freedom Caucus, the far-right group who are staunch supporters of former President Donald Trump, McCarthy wasn’t near conservative enough.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

The extremely slim majority that the Republicans had in the House meant that they couldn’t lose very many votes without failing to elect a Speaker, and unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. Fourteen times, McCarthy made the bid to get the Speaker’s gavel, and it wasn’t until the fifteenth vote that he finally succeeded.

Significant Concessions Were Made

In order to get the leadership role, though, McCarthy had to make some significant concessions to the House rules. One rule that was changed reduced the number of Representatives that it would take for a vote of no confidence in the Speaker, down to just one representative.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

This rule change meant that McCarthy was constantly on tenterhooks, trying to appease both the most moderate and most extreme factions of his conference. Because the majority was so slim, this meant that the Freedom Caucus had a great deal of power over what bills and motions were passed, because they had the ability to kill a bill if they didn’t like it. And ultimately, the rule change over the motion to vacate was what led to McCarthy’s downfall.

Compromise With the Democrats

After compromising with the Democrats on an extension to the yearly spending package, the far-right Freedom Caucus were incensed. They believed that McCarthy had betrayed them in working with the Democrats, and the motion to vacate was raised.

Source: Wikimedia/Clerk of the US House of Representatives

The entirety of the Democratic caucus as well as eight Republicans joined together to oust Kevin McCarthy from the Speaker’s seat, and the House fell into chaos once again. It took three weeks for the Republicans to settle on a new Speaker, this time from the Freedom Caucus itself, Mike Johnson.

A Controversial Leader

Johnson isn’t without his controversies, given that he is credited with the plan to overturn the 2020 election in the House of Representatives. And it took him some time to find his feet as the Speaker of the House, struggling to corral the conference in the same way that McCarthy did.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Speaker Mike Johnson

He’s gained some confidence in the last weeks, and it appears to be because he’s stopped taking into consideration the opinions of the Freedom Caucus. Johnson seems to be more concerned with getting the work of government done, rather than appeasing the most extreme factions of his conference.

Working With the Democrats…Again

This has resulted in several bills that far right conservatives have stated that they’re vehemently opposed to. Among them is the most recent spending bill, totalling $1.2 trillion that funds the government through September of 2024.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

This was a measure that was strongly opposed by those on the far right, who have been seeking to cut government spending for months. In fact, there were some members of the far-right conference that plainly stated that they wanted the government to shut down, in order to get their point across regarding spending priorities.

Leading the Charge Against Johnson

This didn’t happen, though, and now members of the far right are furious. Marjorie Taylor Greene has led the charge in calling for Mike Johnson to be ousted from the Speaker’s chair, claiming that Republicans needed a leader that would “fight for their values.”

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

The fact that Speaker Johnson is one of the most prominent members of the Freedom Caucus doesn’t seem to matter to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ambitions. She’s strengthened her calls to oust Johnson in the days since she first dropped the news that she’d filed the motion to vacate, and her fellow Republicans are not happy.

Moderates Furious with the Freedom Caucus

Moderate members of the Republican conference have become more and more vocal in recent months about how many of them are tired of the far right, and the way that the Freedom Caucus and Trump Republicans have been steering the direction of government recently.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

This most recent call to oust the Speaker of the House, a move that would throw the House of Representatives into disarray yet again, may have been the final straw for Marjorie Taylor Greene and her extreme colleagues.

A Travesty

An anonymous Republican member of the House recently spoke to Axios, stating that they were at the end of their rope with Greene, and that the breaking point might be if her bid to oust Speaker Johnson is successful.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

“Some of us are saying if the Speaker is vacated, which would be a travesty…that we’ll nominate Steve Womack and cut the anarchists out altogether,” the lawmaker said.

A Staunch Supporter of Ukraine

Steve Womack is a House Republican who has been one of the staunchest supporters of Ukraine during the entirety of the most recent phase of the Russia-Ukraine war. Electing him as Speaker would be a pointed move to those on the far right, who have become louder and louder in their opinion about giving aid to Ukraine.

Source: Wikimedia/United States Congress, Office of Steve Womack

It’s an issue that Democrats and moderate Republicans agree on, that giving aid to Ukraine is essential in beating back the Russian threat. And it would especially be a pointed move to Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has falsely claimed that Ukraine is waging a war against “Christianity itself.”

An Unclear Future for the House

Of course, the question of the Speaker, should Johnson be ousted, is far from a clear one. It’s entirely possible that moderate Republicans will come together with the Democrats in order to save Speaker Johnson from losing his seat, likely for some concessions to the Democratic agenda, of course.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Congressman Mike Johnson

If the Democrats elect not to save Johnson, though, the question of who will be the Speaker of the House is up in the air. After allowing two Speakers to be fired by the most extreme members of the conservative conference, it’s unlikely that anyone else will volunteer to step up and take the job.

Ongoing Chaos

This would leave the House in limbo. The Speaker of the House is a powerful position in government, since the Speaker is the one who determines the bills that are brought to the floor for debate and for vote, and none of the business of Congress can happen without someone to lead the House conference.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Speaker Mike Johnson

This wouldn’t be the first time that it was difficult for the House to elect a Speaker. Famously, in 1856, it took 133 votes and nearly two months for the House – deeply divided on the issue of slavery – to finally elect a speaker.

No Room for Compromise

It’s currently unclear whether MTG’s bid to oust Speaker Johnson will be successful. Nobody, Democrats and Republicans alike, wants the chaos that would follow, nor the contentious voting that would occur over the next potential Speaker of the House.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Some members of the far right appear to thrive on chaos, though. Marjorie Taylor Greene has centered her political stance around hard right Republican priorities, with no room for compromise. It’s unlikely that she’ll change her stance on the Speaker simply because removing him would be unpopular, so the American public will just have to wait and see.