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The latest on the House speaker race: Live updates

8:47 a.m. ET, October 11, 2023

GOP congressman says rule change would significantly stall speaker process

Rep. Steve Womack attends a House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in March.

Leah Millis/Reuters
Arkansas Republican Rep. Steve Womack criticized the proposed GOP conference rule change that would raise the threshold to win the party’s nomination for speaker, saying the change would significantly stall the process.

“I think we ought to do it the way we did with Kevin McCarthy, we ought to have the conference vote, we ought to submit our nominee forward, let that vote take place on the floor of the House,” Womack said on “CNN This Morning.”

“That’s really the quickest way out of this, in my opinion, but if we amend the rule and we have to require 217, I think we are going to be stuck in neutral for a while.”

“I’m kind of a put up or shut up kind of guy. I believe that we need to go to the floor of the House, and we need to have our names called, and we need to disclose who we are for in public in front of everybody with complete transparency,” he added. “At the end of the day, we need to go to the floor and be able to disclose who we are for and why.”

Womack, who supports House Majority Leader Steve Scalise for speaker, predicted that “it is unlikely” that the GOP conference “will seat a speaker today or this week,” warning that 217 votes is a “high bar” and that “neither of the candidates that are currently in the mix have demonstrated the ability to command that type of number.”

The Arkansas Republican also slammed his conference for the infighting that has complicated the speaker vote and appropriations process.

“At first it was somewhat comical. Now it’s bordering on the absurd,” Womack said. “Funding the government is part of our fundamental duty and we can’t even do that. And now, here we are at the 11th hour with a clock ticking on a CR that runs out in mid-November and we can’t even seat a speaker. Man, that says volumes.”

Womack, who supports US aid for both Israel and Ukraine, said he does not want “to sacrifice one for the other.” 

“They are both important matters and we need have a full-throated discussion about it in our conference,” he said. “I hope they don’t get caught up in the drama that’s going on in the House right now.”

Read More:The latest on the House speaker race: Live updates