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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
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    Can An Outsider Be Speaker of the House?

    OCT 9 2015, 4:01 PM ET

    Can An Outsider Be Speaker of the House?


    As Republicans search for someone to succeed John Boehner as speaker of the House, some have suggested bringing in an outsider, such as former House speaker Newt Gingrich or Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and onetime chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    But does the speaker have to be a member of the House?

    The Constitution is silent on that question, saying simply, "The House of Representatives shall chuse (sic) their Speaker and other Officers."

    The Clerk of the House agrees with the office of the House Historian, which says the speaker "has always been (but is not required to be) a House Member."

    Most historians and legal experts who've looked at this issue conclude the founders simply assumed the speaker would be drawn from among elected members.

    Related: House Republicans Gather To Figure Out Speaker Debacle

    "It would have been unthinkable for the most populous house not to have its leader be part of the representatives who were elected by the people," says David Forte, a constitutional scholar at Cleveland State University.

    "Nothing fits that would make the speaker anything other than a member of the house," except for the Constitution's silence on the issue, Forte says, noting that the Articles of Confederation said members of Congress shall have authority "to appoint one of their members to preside."

    Related: With McCarthy Out, Who's Next?

    The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, an influential document for the framers, had similar language.

    But given the Constitution's silence on the matter, what if the House did elect an outsider to be speaker? Someone affected by a law passed during a Congress that included a non-member speaker could file a lawsuit, but such an effort probably wouldn't go very far.

    The federal courts — and especially the Supreme Court — are reluctant to wade into cases that raise such purely political questions.

    "There's no way the Court's going to get involved in that. Such internal aspects of each branch of government are appropriately untouchable by another branch. And that certainly would be one," Forte says.

    Bottom line? Though it's inconceivable the framers would have elected an outsider to be speaker of the House, there's nothing to stop the House from doing it now.


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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Heart of Dixie
    As Republicans search for someone to succeed John Boehner as speaker of the House, some have suggested bringing in an outsider, such as former House speaker Newt Gingrich or Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and onetime chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
    Colin Pwell is too liberal to be accepted and Newt Gingrich, according this article, was the principal driver of setting policies that are causing the chaos in the House now.

    After Boehner, House Hard-Liners Aim to Weaken Speaker’s Clout

    OCT. 10, 2015


    Speaker John A. Boehner last week. Behind him was Representative Kevin McCarthy, who had hoped to succeed him. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — As tension built in the House of Representatives in recent weeks, it was sometimes hard to know whom hard-line conservatives were gunning for more: President Obama or their own Republican speaker, John A. Boehner.
    As it turns out, their target is the institution of the speaker of the House itself.

    To get to the broader goal of confronting Mr. Obama, they want to alter the fundamental power structure of the House by reducing the power of the speaker in favor of greater authority for the rank and file.

    “I want to see a change in the culture of Washington D.C.,” said Representative Barry Loudermilk, a freshman from Georgia who is a member of the Freedom Caucus that helped drive Mr. Boehner from office. “The way you do that is not who you elect, but it’s the process. It’s the procedures.”

    “How are we going to change the process, how are we going to make it a more bottom-up versus a top-down structure?” he said.

    If they succeed, they will reverse a trend that began with Democrats in the 1970s but reached new heights with the Republican takeover of 1994. The incoming speaker at that time, Newt Gingrich, centralized power in the leadership suites and moved it away from committee chairmen, requiring them to win the approval of the leadership team.

    The conservatives’ demands, including a long list of proposed rules changes, are made clear in a revealing questionnaire that they drew up for candidates seeking to replace Mr. Boehner.

    On Friday, the conservatives said they would demand answers to the same questionnaire from Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, whom many Republicans are imploring to run for speaker, should he decide to seek the post.

    The changes would include stripping the speaker of his outsize power over the Republican steering committee, which appoints the chairmen for all committees as well as for Appropriations subcommittees. The changes would also reduce the leadership’s tight control over what bills and amendments reach the House floor.

    Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina, went so far Friday as to say the speaker should become a more institutional figure, with the role of party leadership and decision-making falling to the House majority leader.

    “Maybe you change the structure and the speaker goes back to the old-fashioned role of representing the institution,” said Mr. Mulvaney, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. “There is tremendous historical precedent for that.”

    As they cast about for ways to recover from the implosion caused by Representative Kevin McCarthy’s stunning decision to withdraw his name as a candidate for speaker, House Republicans agreed on Friday to form a task force to explore possible rules changes.

    But top officials said they could not imagine the Freedom Caucus winning huge concessions, which they said amounted to giving the party’s hard-right flank more power with little requirement or incentive to compromise.

    The conservatives’ demands were considered a major reason for the decision of Mr. McCarthy of California, who, according to some, believed the House would become ungovernable if he acceded to them. Mr. Ryan, too, would be unlikely to relent.
    The hard-liners, however, insist they are responding to the same grass-roots Republican voters who have shown a preference for outsider candidates like Donald J. Trump and Carly Fiorina in the 2016 presidential primary race.

    “A principles-based rather than a power-based structure,” said Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, summing up the goal of the Freedom Caucus. “I know it sounds kind of wonky, but that’s actually what people tell me at home they are looking for.”

    Representative John Fleming of Louisiana, another Freedom Caucus member, said the Republican base was angry.
    “A lot has to do with the process, how we empower individual members to represent the people back home because they are very frustrated, they don’t feel that Republican members are representing them,” Mr. Fleming said. “Our Republican base — 60 to 62 percent have said in polling that Republicans in Congress have betrayed them, and we need to get that trust back.”

    Other Republicans say the conservatives are simply seeking a shortcut to power in the House instead of trying the traditional route of working one’s way up.

    “If you want to do well around here, you work,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who has clashed with the hard-right faction. “You show up at committee meetings. Chairmen are thrilled to have members that will come to hearings, that will cast tough votes, that will draft substantive legislation that has a chance of getting across the floor, that are team players on procedural votes, those sorts of thing.”

    “But you do have to work,” Mr. Cole said, noting that it took him until his fourth term in office to win a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee. “And guess what? You don’t just show up and get to rule the world. It takes some time.”
    The rules proposals are an obvious outgrowth of the friction between Mr. Boehner, who did not hide his disdain and lack of respect for some of the rebellious conservatives, and conservatives who considered Mr. Boehner a distant and divisive figure, in the words of Mr. Mulvaney.

    The proposed changes in the structure of the steering committee would prevent it from being stacked with allies of the speaker, as it is now.

    The conservatives have also called for other committee members to elect their own chairmen in most cases and to remove the threat that committee leaders could lose their post if they do not support the policy position endorsed by the full House Republican Conference.

    The questionnaire made it clear that House conservatives would vote only for a speaker candidate who promised to increase their numbers on the steering committee and to not punish lawmakers who cross the leadership by stripping them of committee assignments, as Mr. Boehner did.

    They are seeking other pledges as well, including a move to impeach the director of the Internal Revenue Service and a commitment to not give in and accept any stopgap spending bill if Senate Democrats block regular spending measures — an impasse that could lead to a government shutdown.

    Some conservatives who were not officially part of the Freedom Caucus also joined the push for changes.

    “I think the primary thing is some folks feel like they don’t have a voice at the table,” said Representative Bill Flores of Texas, head of the Republican Study Committee, a sizable bloc of House conservatives. “They don’t have the voice as to what comes to the floor, they don’t have a voice as to what amendments get offered and don’t get offered, and they’re frustrated with that. And I can’t blame them. It’s happened to me before, too.”

    Mr. Loudermilk, the Georgia freshman, said that until the Freedom Caucus forced the shake-up in House leadership, he felt irrelevant in Congress.

    “During the last two or three weeks, it’s the first time I actually felt that my vote and my voice actually matters,” he said. “It should be like that all the time.”

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