As we head into 2023, we bring a new Congress with us. The 118th Congress will convene for the first time Tuesday at noon, on the “opening day” of Congress. While the day will be full of pageantry, constituents, and family for many members all of the fun and games will end as the House of Representatives convenes for the first time at around 2 p.m. to vote on a Speaker. As this is the first and only potential action before they are sworn into office.
The House cannot do any work, or act as official members until they elect a Speaker and that Speaker swears the members in. Which could take minutes, hours, a week, or longer depending on the debate the House sees. As of now, it is far from certain that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Cali, will become the speaker.
Tuesday the House will start off with the Clerk of the House, Cheryl Johnson, calling the House to order at noon. Followed by all 434 members coming in and declaring their presence. After this, the members will head into the selection of the speaker. This is important as they cannot do much before this takes place, but also because until they pick a speaker, the House will be under the temporary control of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cali.
With a minimum of 218 votes needed to win the speakership, it may get tricky with a Republican challenger, the potential of not all 434 members being present, and McCarthy having a few known challengers. Leaving an interesting vote as the “magic number,” or a number the speaker candidates will need in order to win will not be known until after the first tally is taken. If McCarthy or anyone else for that matter does not prevail after that first tally, the House will find itself in a position it has not been in, in 100 years.
Leaving an interesting situation for us all to keep our eyes on as we head into the start of the 118th Congress.