Speaker John A. Boehner said he wanted to “clean the barn” before his resignation at the end of October, but he’s leaving his successor with at least one key bit of housekeeping business: Setting the date and parameters for down-ballot leadership elections, should they occur.
On Monday, the Ohio Republican confirmed the House Republican Conference’s nominee for speaker would be picked on Thursday, as originally planned. Three weeks later, on Oct. 29, the House will vote to confirm that nominee on the floor, he said. But Boehner also announced in a written statement he would postpone the majority leader and whip elections initially scheduled for Thursday.
Instead, the new speaker gets the privilege of setting the date for members to elect the second- and third-ranked House Republican leaders. Those jobs will come open only if Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy wins the speakership and then Majority Whip Steve Scalise is chosen to replace McCarthy.
“This new process will ensure House Republicans have a strong, unified team to lead our conference and focus on the American people’s priorities,” Boehner said.
Boehner was facing pressure from members over the weekend to delay elections for the No. 2 and 3 slots.
Some rank-and-file lawmakers said it made little sense to elect a majority leader and whip before a new speaker was officially selected on the House floor, because if McCarthy fails to win 218 votes it would render down-ballot races moot. Others said a delay was necessary to allow members to fully debate a wide array of rules changes that could dictate how conference leaders are elected.
Other Republicans have suggested the longer the party puts off settling on a new leadership slate, the more potentially divisive the races could become.
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