Paralyzed US House can’t even wave to Israel
The war in Israel leaves Republican lawmakers in a tough spot. Since a small group of ultrapartisan hardliners ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week, the now-leaderless US House of Representatives has been unable to pass even the simplest piece of legislation. It can’t even vote to signal support for a US ally under attack.
At the moment, the House has no leader capable of advancing legislative business, and neither of the two lead candidates to replace McCarthy – Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio – has marshaled enough support from Republican members to clarify where all this is headed and how quickly.
Though there may be a first vote today to test the relative strength of the candidates, the race for speaker appears headed toward a stalemate that will last beyond this week. As a result, Republicans will have to consider a third option: giving the job to interim speaker Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, at least temporarily.
Here are the options available to House Republicans who want Congress to pass legislation, most urgently in support of Israel:
- Any House member can call up a pro-Israel resolution by unanimous consent, but without a ruling from the House parliamentarian, the person charged with defining the rules of the House, interim speaker McHenry may not be able to bring the proposal for a vote.
- McHenry could claim his interim status gives him the power to advance legislation. But he’s shown no inclination to do that without a clear mandate from the majority, and the parliamentarian could rule against such a move.
- The House could vote to give McHenry full speaker pro tempore authority, but it’s not clear that enough Republicans would support that because many of them are still hoping either Scalise or Jordan can win.