Hakeem Jeffries: We Are in ‘Informal Conversations’ for a ‘Bipartisan’ Speakership Solution

Democratic Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says that “informal conversations” are taking place that could lead to a “bipartisan governing coalition” to elect a House speaker. After ousting former Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership role, Republicans in Congress have nominated Rep. Jim Jordan as his replacement, but it’s unclear if Jordan has the votes needed to secure the position.

“There are informal conversations that have been underway,” Jeffries told host Kristen Welker on Sunday’s Meet the Press when she asked him about the possibility of a bipartisan solution.

“When we get back to Washington tomorrow, it’s important to begin to formalize those discussions,” he said. “From the very beginning of this Congress, House Democrats have made clear that we want to continue to put people over politics and to fight for things like lower cost, better paying jobs, safer communities, and to build an economy that works from the middle out and the bottom up. On the other hand, House Republicans have been focused on fighting each other.”

McCarthy’s removal nearly two weeks ago left the House without a speaker and marked the first time in U.S. history that a speaker was ousted with a no-confidence vote. Jordan, the current Republican frontrunner who was endorsed for speaker by Donald Trump, is a right-wing figure who defied a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee investigating his role and knowledge of the attack. He has also been accused of ignoring reports of sexual assaults by a team doctor that took place when he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State. GOP Rep. Steve Scalise also threw his hat in the ring but withdrew from contention last week. If Republicans can secure the support of five Democrats, it could be possible to elect a speaker on a bipartisan basis.

Welker asked Jeffries why formal conversations for a bipartisan solution haven’t yet begun, and Jeffries said it was up to Republicans to initiate them. “We have made clear, publicly and privately, that we are ready, willing, and able to enter into a bipartisan governing coalition that puts the American people first and solves problems for hardworking American taxpayers,” he said. “My Republican colleagues have a simple choice. They can either double or triple down on the chaos, dysfunction, and extremism. Or, let’s have a real conversation about changing the rules of the House so it can work in the best interests of the American people.”

When Welker asked what the Democrats’ would hope to secure in a deal with Republicans, Jeffries replied that the party wants to “ensure that votes are taken on bills that have substantial Democratic support and substantial Republican support so that the extremists aren’t able to dictate the agenda.”

“The current rules of the House have facilitated a handful of Republicans being able to determine what gets voted on in the House of Representatives and that undermines the interests of the American people,” he added. “We can change the rules to facilitate bipartisanship, and that should be the starting point of our conversation.”

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