Following Kevin McCarthy’s ouster from the office of speaker of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, several Republicans in the chamber are actively campaigning to succeed him or are likely to do so in the coming days — but some GOP lawmakers would prefer that former President Donald Trump fill the position.
Due to a legal quirk in the U.S. Constitution, there isn’t a requirement for the speaker of the House to be a member of the legislative body, technically allowing Trump (or any other person) to be considered for the role. However, there is still a legal roadblock that could prevent Trump from holding the position.
Texas Republican Rep. Troy Nehls has said that he will nominate Trump for the role when the House reconvenes next week. “My first order of business will be to nominate Donald J. Trump for speaker of the US House of Representatives,” Nehls said, describing the twice-impeached former president, who faces 91 criminal indictment charges, as “the greatest president of my lifetime.”
In proposing Trump for speaker, Nehls altered Trump’s MAGA tagline, claiming that Trump would “make the House great again.”
A number of other Republicans, including Reps. Greg Steube (Florida), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia), and Trump’s former White House doctor Ronny Jackson (Texas), have also indicated that they would back Trump for speaker. Fox News host Sean Hannity pushed the idea on his program Tuesday night following McCarthy’s ouster.
On Wednesday morning, Trump suggested that he’s not interested in becoming the next speaker but didn’t outright say he would reject the position if chosen by Republicans. Trump told reporters that his focus is “totally on” running for president in 2024, but added that there are other choices for speaker worth considering and that he would “do whatever it is to help” Republicans during the process.
Notably, Trump did receive some votes during the marathon 15 rounds of ballots earlier this year when McCarthy won the job, though not nearly enough to be considered a serious contender for the speakership.
In response to GOP lawmakers calling for Trump to be speaker, Democratic Rep. Sean Casten of Illinois noted that Trump is disqualified for the role under party rules adopted earlier this year after McCarthy won the position.
“I would direct your attention to rule 26(a) of the House Republican Conference rules for the 118th Congress,” Casten wrote.
According to Casten, who shared a screenshot of the rule on social media, Republicans cannot have as part of their leadership team a person who has been “indicted for a felony for which a sentence of two or more years imprisonment may be imposed.” Trump, who is facing 91 felony indictments across four separate investigations, could be disqualified from serving under this rule, Casten implied.
It’s possible that the rule will become irrelevant — if Republicans so desired, they could simply change their own rules before voting begins next week. But that additional step could be challenging for those serious about nominating Trump, as at least a few in the Republican conference have spurned the former president since he left office.
The process of selecting the next speaker will likely take longer than usual, just as it did earlier this year. Several candidates have already started actively campaigning for the position, and with the House as narrowly divided as it is, no Republican can win without the support of all but five lawmakers in the conference, provided that every Democrat in the House votes against every GOP option.
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