I looked it up. The shortest period of service for Speaker of the House is a record held by the NY-24 Representative in 1869. On March 3 of that year, after serving four terms in the US House, Theodore M Pomeroy’s final full day in office came to a close with the 40th Congress.
That same morning, Schuyler Colfax officially resigned as Speaker of the House, a day before he was sworn into office as Vice President. As a mark of respect to honour their retiring colleague, the House passed a motion declaring Theodore Pomeroy duly elected Speaker to fill the brief vacancy left by Colfax. In office for one day, Pomeroy’s term is the shortest tenure of any Speaker of the US House. The History, Art and Archives section of the US House website notes:
Affable and well-liked by Representatives from both parties, Pomeroy gave a brief speech thanking the Members “for the kind personal consideration which is involved in my unanimous election to this most honorable position.”
The next shortest duration is one term (2 years) and that’s jointly held by 20 of the 55 Speakers to date. I predict McCarthy won’t last one full term and since Pomeroy’s Speakership was largely an honourable position, it will be Kevin McCarthy’s term that will be remembered as the shortest and most dishonourable Speakership.
What will bring about the timely termination of McCarthy’s long-held ambition, the role he coveted so much he’d agree to any deal to clinch his election? I’m glad you asked.
Of course, it could be any number of reasons including the crowd favourite of his being turfed out of the job by discontented members of his own party. But I don’t see that happening. For one thing, the media on the hill aren’t talking about it (and they would be if there was the slightest rumour that some faction in the GOP was gunning for him).
It’s also clear by now that none of the others wants the job. Even the terminally stupid like Greene and Boebert, who both fancy themselves in the role, can see they don’t have anywhere near the support they’d need. They’re also getting an up-close and unvarnished view of how difficult the job is for Kevin and they don’t want the bother.
I do believe McCarthy will be forced out, not by his own party but because of his own party. In short, I believe there’s good reason to believe the GOP will lose the House majority sometime between August and October this year. While the timing is largely guesswork, the reasoning is based on available facts and extrapolation. The point is it could happen and this is how it may unfold.
At present, the GOP has 221 members present in the House. There is a 222nd member, Greg Steube, but he is still absent after sustaining several serious injuries when he fell 25 feet from a ladder on January 19. The Democrats introduced remote voting in May 2020 to allow House sessions to continue during pandemic shutdowns and/or isolation due to illness. But McCarthy’s Rules Committee tossed it out just days before Steube’s accident. The Florida rep is convalescing at home and may be absent for several months before doctors declare him fit enough to resume his seat. That means McCarthy’s majority has shrunk to just 4 members.
One of those 4 is the fraud-currently-known-as-George-Santos who is adding to his legal jeopardy on an almost daily basis. With a pinch of luck, he’ll be indicted and removed by the end of the year.
Of much greater interest, however, are the GOP insurrectionists. In interviews promoting his book The Breach, former congressman and senior staffer to the Jan 6 committee, Denver Riggleman, stated that committee members and staffers identified 40 GOP insurrectionists. A few of those are in the Senate but most are in the House.
Eleven House Republicans were identified by the Jan 6 Committee as attendees at a coup planning meeting held at the White House on December 21, 2020.
In their report on the story, The Insider noted:
The committee previously shared a number of Republicans who sought pardons from Trump in the final days of his administration. Six of the attendees of the December 21, 2020, meeting — Biggs, Brooks, Gaetz, Gohmert, Greene, and Perry — sought pardons.
Then there are the 34 members of Congress who exchanged texts with Mark Meadows. From the TPM report December 12, 2022:
Meadows’ text log shows what the scheme to reverse the election results looked like behind the scenes, revealing new details about which members of Congress helped spearhead the efforts and the strategies they deployed. The members who messaged Meadows about challenging the election included some of the highest-profile figures on the right flank in Congress, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), all of whom are identified as playing leading roles in the effort to undo Trump’s defeat.
Below is a list of all of the members of Congress identified in Meadows’ text message log. It includes the 11 attendees at the coup planning meetings.
Not mentioned on this list is airhead Lauren Boebert. She wasn’t invited to attend the coup plotting sessions and didn’t exchange texts with Meadows but she did exchange texts with at least one or more persons in this group because she led a surveillance tour through the Capitol Building just days before January 6. On the day, during the insurrection, she also used her phone to let interested parties know when Speaker Nancy Pelosi was ushered from the chamber by security.
Boebert has a known acquaintance with the Proud Boys and a well-documented alliance with the Three-Percenters who provided “security” at her campaign rallies. She deleted a tweet with photos of her posing with the latter group after reporters asked her about her association with them. But the internet never forgets.
The investigation into those responsible for plotting the insurrection on Jan 6 is in the expert hands of Special Counsel Jack Smith. If the following timeline is anything to go by, he’s moving at warp speed.
From those observed entering the building where the Grand Juries are sitting, the Special Counsel team is currently in the process of indicting those involved in the stolen documents’ case, the fake electors’ scheme and the Jan 6 insurrection. The strongest indication yet that Smith is zeroing in on members of Congress is his keen interest in the contents of Rep Scott Perry’s phone. As Reuters reported:
Perry’s conduct is under scrutiny by Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office because of the prominent role Perry played in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by thousands of Trump supporters trying to block Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
An investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 committee last year revealed Perry was in frequent contact with Trump White House officials in the weeks before the attack.
It’s no giant leap to expect that Perry’s phone records will triangulate with Mark Meadows’ text message log and inevitably lead to other members of Congress.
The podcast Jack, hosted by Andrew McCabe (former Acting FBI Director) and Allison Gill (@MuellerSheWrote), reported that the Special Counsel expects to be in court by the Summer. Since he’s had grand juries operating from the end of November, it’s reasonable to expect indictments in the next month or so.
Jack Smith will be acutely aware of the 2024 presidential election looming in the near future and will be pushing hard to get indictments, trials and convictions before the end of the year. Smith will want speedy trials and is likely to get them. He’ll also get convictions and sentencing will follow soon after.
What does this mean for Congress and the US House in particular? The initial effect will be missing members in the chamber. They aren’t required to resign their seats upon indictment but it does mean they’ll be absent while they attend their trials. In the wake of their convictions, remaining as members of Congress will become untenable, regardless of McCarthy’s desperation to keep them on board. That will lead to the House being down several members before the year is out.
It follows that there will be a number of special elections called by numerous state governors to fill the sudden vacancies but that will take a couple of months or more. In the meantime, Republicans will lose their slender majority and may be down by as many as 25 members. If it’s more than 9, that will flip the majority back to the Democrats. And looking at the list above, I’m betting it will be more than 9.
Based on what we know of their characters, we can confidently predict that they’ll be falling all over each other to cooperate with investigators by heaping blame on everyone else in order to secure a lighter sentence for themselves. No doubt there will be requests for immunity in exchange for cooperation but Jack Smith doesn’t strike me as someone who hands out immunity deals to insurrectionists.
McCarthy will likely cling to the Speakership like a frayed rope in a turbulent ocean until the outcome of several special elections decides his ultimate fate. But until then, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries will hold the House majority in his capable hands. If Dems can win just 5 of those special elections, McCarthy will be forced to give up his treasured title and the cause of democracy will breathe a sigh of relief.
You can bet McCarthy’s parting speech will be neither short nor sweet. Either he’ll decide to forgo a speech altogether or it will be filled with rambling grievances based on bitter disappointments buttressed with the usual rightwing lies.
He’ll be doubly aggrieved to lose his coveted position because, for the first time since 2009 when he became the House Republicans’ chief deputy whip, he will be without a party rank and title. Steve Scalise was elected majority leader before McCarthy finally landed the Speakership on his 15th attempt. Scalise will be demoted to minority leader and Kevin? Well, he’ll just go back to being plain old Rep McCarthy – and that will sting.
If ever there was a time when justice needed to be done, it is 2023. The US must clean out the criminals in Congress before the 2024 elections so voters have a clear understanding of what has been happening and what is at stake. Everyone needs to play their part and that includes those who implement and execute the Rule of Law. Their time has come. May justice be done.