Rep. Paul Ryan, whose name has been bandied about in the search for outgoing House Speaker John Boehner’s replacement. (Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock)

It’s been nearly a week since Rep. Kevin McCarthy followed outgoing House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise announcement of his resignation with his own decision to suddenly split from the pack of hopefuls angling for Boehner’s post — and most important, his power.

As of Thursday evening, the field is still wide open, and as The Associated Press reported, Rep. Paul Ryan is still not on it (via U.S. News):

The profusion of potential candidates, now approaching double digits, is happening even with all attention focused on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential nominee widely seen as the best person for the job.

Ryan, who has made clear he does not want to be speaker, is home in Janesville, Wisconsin, thinking it over anyway under pressure from top party leaders. And with Congress out of session for a weeklong recess, Capitol Hill has fallen quiet after a series of wild days during which Speaker John Boehner shocked the House by announcing his planned resignation, and Boehner’s heir apparent, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, abruptly took himself out of the running.

[…] Others who’ve suggested their interest in the speakership, or contacted fellow lawmakers to sound them out, include GOP Reps. Michael McCaul and Michael Conaway of Texas, Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, and Darrell Issa of California. Reps. Daniel Webster of Florida and Jason Chaffetz of Utah were running against McCarthy before he dropped out, and remain in the race. Still others, such as Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, have seen their names pushed by outside groups seeking new leadership for the House GOP.

Reps. Bill Flores, Mike Pompeo and Ryan Zinke were also included in the AP’s report.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal weighed in that same day, adding some historical perspective to the House speaker picture:

Congressional experts said the Republican leadership vacuum offers lawmakers an opportunity to leapfrog to the pinnacle of power that would have been unusual decades before.

“In the 1940s through 1980s, roughly, there was a leadership ladder in the House,” said Matthew Green, a politics professor at Catholic University who has studied House speakers. “Right now there is no ladder,” he said. “It’s completely open.”

The House has occasionally selected a speaker new to the chamber. The very first speaker, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, was naturally in his first term when elected in 1789. Henry Clay was in his first House term when elected speaker in 1811, though he had previously served in the Senate.

At a time when political outsiders including Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are leading the GOP presidential pack, Washington experience isn’t always seen as a positive credential.

Speaking of credentials, not to mention the WSJ, turns out Ann Coulter apparently needs to brush up on her House rules. The right-leaning repeat offender insisted, during a sit-down interview Saturday with “The Flipside” host Michael Loftus at Politicon in Los Angeles, that contrary to what multiple news outlets were stating, candidates for speaker of the House have to be members of the congressional cohort:

Everything you hear out there is you don’t have to be a member of Congress to be the speaker, and everyone keeps throwing out names, and I said, “Well, I haven’t looked this up, and I’ve been fooled … when I first started being a commentator … never believe what you read in The Wall Street Journal (they just make crap up); I’m a lawyer — I’ll just look it up myself.” I’ve looked it up for you: You have to be a member of Congress!

Since Coulter’s intel runs counter to this report, as well as this one and many others, we consulted Truthdig’s own legal expert, Bill Blum, and he broke it all down.

“The House chooses the speaker under Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution. The clause doesn’t say the speaker has to be a member of the House, but thus far every speaker has been,” Blum noted. “I don’t expect that to change or for the current Republican majority, as zany as it is, to test the theoretical limits on this one.”

Blum also put to rest any speculation that there’s some way a congressional membership requirement could be construed from anything in the Constitution’s language. “Basically, the Constitution is silent on the speaker’s qualifications, meaning that, theoretically, the House could choose a non-member,” he said.

“And just to add one more point: No one has litigated the issue as yet, as a non-member has never been elected speaker, so the courts have not weighed in. But the Constitution itself doesn’t say who can be the speaker.”

Right. And for the record, in case the GOP’s power huddle on the matter doesn’t produce a suitable candidate, Blum said he’d “take the job and maybe could stand the heat in D.C., but not the humidity.”

Watch Coulter’s interview in the video below:

–Posted by Kasia Anderson


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