Almost Anyone Can Become the House Speaker, Except Donald Trump

Some Republicans favor an outsider to serve as the next US House speaker: Donald Trump.

(Bloomberg) — Some Republicans favor an outsider to serve as the next US House speaker: Donald Trump.

Yet the former president and current GOP 2024 frontrunner is ineligible for the post under the party’s own rules barring anyone under indictment for serious charges from any House leadership role. 

Those rules would need to be changed for Trump as he is facing four felony indictments and 91 separate counts.

“A lot of people have asked me about it,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “But we’ve got some great people in the Republican party that could do a great job as speaker.”

He didn’t reject the idea out of hand but said he’s focused on reclaiming the White House. Nevertheless his name emerged after House Republicans huddled behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss a replacement for the deposed Kevin McCarthy. 

Until now, the speaker has always been a member of the House from the majority party, but there’s no rule that requires it. The constitution says only, “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers.”

The GOP conference, however, has a rule saying no one indicted for a felony punishable by more than two years in prison can serve in leadership.

Republican Troy Nehls of Texas said Tuesday he would place Trump’s name into nomination. A change in the GOP rules to permit the former president to serve as speaker would require a majority vote of House Republicans.

The prospect of a Speaker Trump shows the large shadow he casts over Republican politics — especially in the House, where members run every two years and a Trump endorsement is still a sought-after seal of approval.   

“The only candidate for Speaker I am currently supporting is President Donald J. Trump,” wrote Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “We can make him Speaker and then elect him President!”

The idea is meeting resistance in some never-Trump quarters of the GOP. “Really, we want a convicted felon to be president of the US?” former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told CNBC Wednesday. “And you have some jokers on the Hill yesterday saying let’s make him speaker?”

In 2021, after Republicans had floated Trump’s name as a potential speaker, Pennsylvania Democratic Representative Brendan Boyle introduced the MEMBERS Act — an acronym for “Mandating that being an Elected Member Be an Essential Requirement for Speakership.” 

The bill never got a vote. And so members and pundits continue to entertain the idea of an unconventional choice from outside the chamber. Votes for them have become one way to lodge a protest vote in speaker elections. 

Among those who’ve drawn support in the past: retired General Colin Powell (2013 and twice in 2015) former US Comptroller General David Walker (2013), future President Joe Biden (2019), former Georgia state Representative Stacey Abrams (2019), Senator Tammy Duckworth (2019 and 2021) and former Representative Lee Zeldin (2023).

–With assistance from Erik Wasson, Billy House, Maria Luiza Rabello and Magan Crane.

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