I am one of those people who likes to go behind the scenes and see how things get done. If I join an organization, I tend to study the bylaws to make sure that things are done properly. This is especially true of politics. Most of the time when things are working smoothly, the process is largely opaque. It is only when things go seriously off the rails that the inner workings get exposed. And boy, these last two years have been a boon for process nerds.
We saw this with the the Electoral College fiasco that led up to the January 6th riot by Trump supporters. The whole process was laid bare revealing the potential for abuse. One good thing that came out of it is that as part of the omnibus spending bill that was passed last month, it was clarified that the vice president’s role in certifying the results was purely ceremonial, leaving no room for him to unilaterally reject the slate of voters sent by each state, as Trump and his cult members claimed.
Importantly, the measure also would raise the bar for objecting to a state’s slate of electors. As it stands now, it takes just one member of the House and one senator to challenge a state’s electors and send both chambers into a potentially days-long debate period, even without legitimate concerns.
The new legislation would raise the threshold for an objection to 20% of the members of each chamber.
The Electoral College should be abolished altogether as an anachronism but failing that this is a good first step.
Now with the vote for the Speaker, we again see the workings exposed, revealing that a small but determined group of people can completely stymie the working of government by refusing to give the majority party leader the votes to become Speaker. Since that is the first order of. business, nothing can be done until the Speaker is chosen. He have now had 11 votes over three days and Kevin McCarthy’s support has actually declined from 203 to 200, well short of the 218 he needs.
The roll call is done orally with each member naming the person whom they are voting for. I was curious as to who was presiding over the votes since there is no Speaker. I could hear a woman’s voice calling the roll. It turns out that it is the Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson who presides until the Speaker is chosen. She might be in that role for a while.
What a dreary task this must be for her, going through the same motions over and over again with almost no change in the outcome. It is not clear to me why they hold multiple votes back-to-back on the same day since the first vote on a day will pretty much determine the subsequent ones since there is really is no time to do any negotiations to change votes.
Furthermore some of Republicans have been making speeches before naming their choice, dragging out the process even more. Some like anti-McCarthy Matt Gaetz have trivialized the process by voting for Donald Trump. Then there is Lauren Boebert, one of the most fervent opponents of Kevin McCarthy. She decided to be cute when it was her turn on one vote and made a speech in which she said that she was voting for Kevin. This caused considerable surprise and confusion. She then rambled on, causing other members to yell at her to get to the point and then she then went on to say that she was voting for Oklahoma congressman Kevin Hern. Ha! Ha! Pranked you!
Whoa, I missed this originally:
Lauren Boebert trolls Kevin McCarthy and her fellow Republican caucus members by feinting as though she’s going to vote for McCarthy and instead voting for Kevin Hern.pic.twitter.com/wathK9rU8q
— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) January 5, 2023
That Boebert, such a kidder! I am sure that all those hoping that this process would come to a merciful end were slapping their thighs with laughter. People like Boebert and Gaetz don’t seem have shed their middle-school mentality. Boebert barely won re-election this time. I am not sure if her childish behavior will help or hurt her next time around.