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View Diary: House GOP not returning to D.C. (182 comments)

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    You need more votes than all other candidates combined to be elected Speaker (as long as there is a quorum of a majority of the House members).

    There were some instances in the 19th century, when the House was fractured by disputes over slavery, that it took a very long time to elect a Speaker.  For example the 36th Congress met on December 5th, 1859. It did not elect a Speaker until February 1st, 1860. On the 44th ballot a freshman New Jersey Republican, William Pennington was elected.

    As the new Speaker said (copied from the House Journal on the American Memory website):-

    Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

    I return you my grateful acknowledgments for the distinguished honor you have been pleased to confer upon me in electing me Speaker of this House. Coming here, for the first time, at the present session, to be associated with you as a member, no event could have been more unlooked for than that I should be called on to preside over your deliberations. And my friends will do me the justice to say that I have not sought the position, as I certainly never desired it. I am, nevertheless, as conscious of the dignity and importance of this high office as any gentleman can be; but I should have been far better pleased had its duties been intrusted to abler and more experienced hands. After witnessing the almost insurmountable obstacles in the way of the organization of this House, I came to the conclusion that any gentleman, of any party, who could command a majority of the votes for Speaker, was bound, in deference to the public exigencies, to accept the responsibility as an act of patriotic duty, whether agreeable to his personal feelings or not. As that choice has unexpectedly fallen upon me, I have not hesitated to accept it. In the execution of this high trust, my object will be to do my duty with impartiality and justice to all. I shall have great necessity, gentlemen, for your indulgence in the new position in which I am placed, and I feel entire confidence I shall receive it at your hands.

    A representative from the State of New Jersey, upon whose soil so many brilliant achievements were accomplished in the revolutionary war, and whose people have ever been distinguished for their devotion to the Constitution and the Union, I pray the Great Arbiter of our destinies that I may do no act to impair the integrity of either; that by wise and prudent counsels peace and order may yet reign in our midst, and our free institutions be perpetuated to our descendants. I feel I have a national heart, embracing all parts of our blessed Union.

    Again thanking you for your kindness, I now enter upon the discharge of the arduous and complicated duties of my station.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 11:20:19 AM PST

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