California Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman suggested filling the vacant Speaker of the House seat with former President George W. Bush as GOP lawmakers attempt to get the lower chamber of Congress back in order after nearly a month of chaos.
“He could come back,” Sherman told the “Forbes Newsroom” podcast. “Obviously, I’m not a real fan of how the Iraq War went, but I would think that any reasonable Republican would be somebody that Democrats could work with — if it was part of a system where you didn’t have five of the most extreme Republicans blocking important legislation and saying, ‘If you bring that to the floor for a vote, we’ll knock you out of your Speakership.'”
Sherman tore into some dysfunctional aspects of the House of Representatives, notably the Republican side ousting former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) last month. The historic removal has since left the chamber unable to vote on legislation like pending fiscal year 2024 spending bills, avoiding a government shutdown, and supplying aid for Israel’s war against Hamas.
House Republicans nominated Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) last week — after holding two rounds of secret ballots — to rally behind him to become Speaker as soon as midday Tuesday, according to reports.
Jordan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, won the GOP nomination in his second try on Friday. He defeated Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) in a 124-81 Republican conference vote. In a second secret ballot asking members if they would support Jordan in a House floor vote, Republicans voted 152-55.
But the lawmaker still faces a challenge in mustering enough support to secure a simple majority needed to secure victory in a chamber-wide vote.
Sherman called Jordan “among the worst speakers” for the House but noted it’s good politics for Democrats, as the Ohio Republican has the backing of former President Donald Trump.
Still, Sherman asserts he would choose Bush or Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), both of whom he called “traditional” Republicans.
“It’s not the person, it’s the program,” Sherman said. “And if the program is to say that if a bill passes, the Senate will get an up or down vote on it in the House. And that would be more important to me than the personality.”
Although Bush is not a sitting member of Congress and hasn’t held elected office since 2009, his status does not necessarily disqualify him from holding the position as the U.S. House of Representatives does not require the speaker to be a member of the lower chamber — although elected officials have consistently voted for one.
The House is expected to vote for the speaker as early as Tuesday, two weeks after eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting to oust McCarthy.
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) is serving as speaker pro tempore in the short term.
Jordan has secured pivotal endorsements since GOP lawmakers nominated him last week, including support from McCarthy, members of the House Freedom Caucus, and House Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL).
Daniel Chaitan contributed to this report.