Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu Warns of ‘Consequences’ From Speakership Delays

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
January 4, 2023Politics
Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu Warns of ‘Consequences’ From Speakership Delays
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) delivers remarks on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on July 28, 2016. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, weighed in on the continued delays in selecting the next speaker of the House, saying the wait will have “real-world consequences” for members of Congress.

The House has held six votes on Tuesday and Wednesday to select the next speaker, but in each case, the Republican majority that now controls the House has been unable to achieve the majority vote necessary to select a candidate from their party. On the sixth vote on Wednesday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) received 201 votes for his speakership, while 20 Republicans voted instead for Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also received 212 votes for the speakership position.

As the House continued without a speaker on Wednesday, Lieu responded to an argument by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) that the drawn-out process for selecting the next speaker is restoring a spirit of debate in the House.

I don’t really understand what he’s talking about, because we have debate all the time,” Lieu told NTD.I have last term presided as a speaker pro [tempore], and I watched debate take place on a bunch of different bills all the time, so I don’t really understand what he’s saying.”

Speakership Delays ‘Causing Consequences for Our Country’

Lieu shared Democratic arguments that the delays in selecting the next speaker are preventing Congress from conducting its normal functions.

“When you don’t have a House of Representatives, that has real-world consequences. So we can’t see any classified documents right now. We can’t conduct oversight. We can’t have committee meetings. We can’t function whatsoever,” Lieu said.

“You can’t have an entire branch of federal government simply not function, so with the chaos and confusion on the Republican side, it is causing consequences for our country and I hope you’re able to govern,” he added.

As part of his efforts to secure support from Republican members, McCarthy agreed to restore the “motion to vacate the chair,” a rule that would allow the House to vote for a new speaker. The motion had been part of the House rules since its first session in 1789 but was removed after Democrats won control of the House in 2018. McCarthy initially opposed restoring the motion but eventually agreed to a compromise version of the rule that would require five lawmakers to support the motion.

Lieu said that the rule “weakens the position” of the speaker, saying it “makes it very difficult for the speaker to function and it would make the speaker beholden to a very small group.”

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