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Saturday, December 17, 2022

Electing the Speaker of the house


Kyle Stewart and Scott Wong at MSNBC:

When the House gathered on Dec. 4, 1923, Frederick Gillett sought re-election as speaker. The Republican from Massachusetts had served in the role since 1919 and his party had maintained control of the chamber.

But after the first ballot, Gillett did not have the votes needed. Three more votes were held and each time enough Progressive Republicans supported other candidates, blocking Gillett from regaining the gavel.

“Mr. Clerk, it seems entirely evident that no good purpose can be served by having another ballot tonight,” Republican leader Nicholas Longworth said on the floor before the chamber adjourned that night.

At issue were rule changes that Progressive Republicans wanted. For two days, the group refused to budge and on a few ballots, the Democrats’ nominee even led in the tally.

Longworth eventually struck a deal with the progressives and on the ninth ballot, Gillett was re-elected speaker.

There have only been 14 instances in congressional history where it took more than two ballots for a nominee to get a majority. The first 13 happened before the Civil War.