You can listen to the fifth episode of the Progress Pondcast here. It’s entirely devoted to the House Republicans’ troubled effort to elect a new Speaker of the House. As I write this, the Republicans are getting ready to take a vote on the floor to elect Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, and there seems to be some optimism that he might succeed. It could be that they’ve found the sweet spot between a complete troglodyte that satisfies the far right and someone with a low profile who hasn’t made a lot of enemies among his colleagues. You also can’t discount the importance of exhaustion. And, of course, the people who ought to object to Johnson are also the people least likely to throw a fit and hold everything up in defiance of the consensus of the caucus.

If Johnson becomes Speaker, he will immediately have to go to the Democrats to pass another continuing resolution to fund the government as “Pelosi levels.” If he doesn’t, the government will shut down and stay shut down. If the former happens, we’ll see if Johnson can hold onto the job. If the latter happens, the pressure will build to govern by discharge petition, meaning that a majority will overrule the Republican leadership and force votes to the floor. It could be the only way to reopen the government, short of vacating the chair again and electing a bipartisan Speaker.

Make sure to tune in.

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