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After Rep. John Boehner announced that he would be stepping down from his position as Speaker of the House, the Republican party does not have a clear choice for who (if anyone) should be his replacement. The presumptive candidate, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), will not be running for the position. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), another key leader in the House of Representatives, will not run either. This leaves the Republican leadership in a bit of a chaotic state. If you'd like to learn more about all possible scenarios, check out this piece on Vox.
As discussed here, the Speaker of the House plays a very powerful role in U.S. government. The Speaker essentially decides which bills get put before the House of Representatives for debate. He or she is second in the line of succession to the presidency, meaning they could become commander-in-chief if both the President and Vice President die. In most other countries, similar government leaders are non-partisan, a means of preventing political affiliation from derailing political debates. In today's politically-polarized environment, the Speaker's political affiliation has a great impact on which laws get passed. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expediting the passage of the Affordable Care Act is a prime example. If there was a majority of Republicans in the House and a Republican speaker, such legislation would never be brought to the floor for debate.
One of the challenges in electing the new Congressional leader is the Freedom Caucus, a group of lawmakers that absolutely refuse to cooperate with the Obama administration on any level. There are about 40 members of the Freedom Caucus and they are refusing to vote for any new potential Speaker who would work with President Obama to pass fundamental legislation like raising the debt ceiling to avoid the U.S. defaulting on its debt.
John Boehner's resignation sparks succession fight (cnn.com)
"John Boehner's sudden resignation is launching an unexpected leadership battle in Congress that may be a turning point for Republicans, likely pitting the establishment wing against tea party conservatives."
Nancy Pelosi On The 'Awesome Power' Of The House Speakership (npr.org)
"The news of John Boehner's resignation as Speaker of the House has many wondering what comes next in such a deeply divided Congress."
Committee on Rules (rules.house.gov)
GOP Senator Wants Dick Cheney To Be Speaker Of The House (talkingpointsmemo.com)
"Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), an Iraq war veteran and a hawk on foreign policy, endorsed Cheney as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the current top contender to replace Speaker John Boehner (R-OH),continues to show reluctance at the idea of running."