A procedural recap for those who may just be joining us. A candidate must win an absolute majority of a House roll call vote to become Speaker. As ABC News explained earlier:
Assuming all 433 members of the House vote, (there are two open seats), Boehner would need 217 votes to lock up another term as speaker. With 233 Republicans in the House this term, 17 Republicans would have to vote for someone else in order to send the question to a second ballot.
As The Hill reports, Boehner eked out a win after nine Republicans voted for other members of the party. His final total was 220 votes, which accounts for several other members who abstained or voted “present” to avoid moving Boehner’s total closer to the 217 needed to eclipse 50% of the 433 members today. The two vacant seats, awaiting special elections to bring the House to its usual 435 members, are those of Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and Tim Scott (R-SC).
A vote without a majority winner would have necessitated another roll call vote, repeating until a candidate won the majority, and the field is not winnowed down. Though this hasn’t been necessary since 1923, some in conservative circles were floating this scenario as a way of expressing dissatisfaction with Boehner’s leadership.
Much more on House vote intrigue past, present, and perhaps future in this study (PDF) written by Richard S. Beth and Valerie Heitshusen and published by Congressional Research Service last year.
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