One of the stranger ideas aired in this strange period of American political history is that in the event Republicans retake control of the U.S. House in 2022, they might give their lord and master Donald Trump the Speaker’s gavel. As I noted last month, it’s technically possible. The odds of Republicans flipping the House next year are relatively high given the currently narrow Democratic margin, the long history of midterm losses by the party controlling the White House, and the likelihood of Republican gerrymandering during the imminent redistricting process. The U.S. Constitution’s provisions for the Speakership do not stipulate that the position be held by a sitting member of the House, though it has never been occupied by an “outsider.”
Trump himself, when asked if he wanted to succeed Nancy Pelosi in 2023, called the idea “very interesting.” He has not, however, publicly commented on the wild scheme proposed by his disgraced-and-pardoned ex-strategist Steve Bannon, whereby Speaker Trump would preside over the impeachment and removal of President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris and reassume the presidency in order to run for another term as an incumbent in 2024.
In any event, a House Democrat, Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, has introduced legislation with the self-explanatory title of the Mandating That Being an Elected Member Be an Essential Requirement for Speakership Act of 2021. Since the Constitution is silent on the subject, and the federal courts are very likely to defer to Congress in setting its own rules for its leadership positions, a simple statute might suffice to bar Donald Trump, along with a vast array of sports and entertainment celebrities and non-House pols, from standing behind Biden and next to Harris during the 2023 State of the Union Address.
Presumably most of the Democrats who control both chambers of Congress would agree with Boyle’s premise: “That Donald Trump’s name would even be tossed around as a potential Speaker in the people’s House should serve as an alarm bell that our current requirements need to be amended in the name of protecting our nation and our democracy.” On the other hand the idea could be troubling to the House Democrats who have recently cast votes for Stacey Abrams, Tammy Duckworth, and even (in 2019) Joe Biden in conspicuous dissents against Pelosi’s continued reign.
All in all, it’s unlikely that congressional Democrats will act on Boyle’s constructive suggestion out of fear that it might make the idea of Speaker Trump vastly more popular in MAGA land. It’s a bad idea whose time has not come.