Republicans have nominated Majority Whip Tom Emmer to replace Kevin McCarthy as the US House of Representatives speaker, aiming to lead them out of chaos caused by weeks of global crises and the threat of a government shutdown. Emmer emerged victorious from a series of secret ballots in a crowded field of nine candidates, but he will still need to convince almost all of his colleagues to back him in a vote on the House floor.
Emmer is the party’s Plan D, with McCarthy still popular among the majority of House Republicans. He will be the least experienced speaker in more than a century, having never chaired a committee or held a senior leadership role for more than a few months. He could find himself presiding over a government shutdown unless he can cut a 2024 budget deal favorable to his party, with much more seasoned negotiators, from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to President Joe Biden.
Emmer will also be expected to lead his deeply fractured conference through upcoming fights over funding for Ukraine and Israel in their conflicts with Russia and Hamas. In a letter to colleagues ahead of the ballots, he said he was seeking the gavel to deliver “historic change.”
There has been little evidence so far that Emmer has sufficient support to win 217 votes, the majority on the House floor, and seize the gavel. The nominee can afford to lose just four Republicans and still claim the speakership if every Democrat votes against him. Only 117 of Emmer’s colleagues voted for him in the final round of balloting, with 97 preferring his rival, Louisiana congressman Mike Johnson.