U.S. Rep.- elect Byron Donalds (R-FL) speaks to the media during the second day of elections for Speaker of the House outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 04, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Spea

U.S. Rep.- elect Byron Donalds (R-FL) speaks to the media during the second day of elections for Speaker of the House outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 4, 2023 in Washington, D.C. | Source: Getty Images / Getty

House Republicans, in a dizzying and apparent state of complete disarray, have moved to nominate a Black congressman for Speaker of the House in an effort to deny a much more senior legislator who has suggested he is entitled to the position.

Florida Rep. Byron Donalds on Wednesday received 20 votes for Speaker of the House. While that may seem like a meager amount it’s definitely nowhere near the 218 votes needed to be elected, but it was just enough to block the bid of House Minority Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has incurred the wrath of some of the most extreme congressional Republicans.

The votes put Donalds, who was reelected in November, in the position to potentially — but doubtfully — be the first Black Speaker of the House. The development came one day after Democrats nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to be House Minority Speaker, pushing the New York congressman closer to becoming the first Black person to lead a party in Congress.

As it stands, Thursday was the first time in U.S. history that both Democrats and Republicans nominated a Black person to lead their party in Congress.

Upping the racial ante, if Donalds and Jeffries are both successful, it would be the first time both chambers of Congress will be led by Black people.

House And Senate Convene For The 118th Congress On Capitol Hill

Incoming House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is acknowledged on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 3, 2023, in Washington, D.C | Source: Anna Moneymaker / Getty

The first vote on Thursday came after three other attempts by Republicans on Tuesday that all ended without McCarthy claiming victory. A sixth vote on Wednesday ended with similar results as House Republicans waded deeper into unprecedented waters of indecision that are delaying the 118th Congress from officially convening and congress members-elect from being sworn in.

Texas Rep. Chip Roy nominated Donalds on Thursday, prompting other Republicans to also vote for the second-term Congressman.

From the Washington Post:

“Byron is a dear friend, a solid conservative but most importantly a family man who loves dearly his wife, Erika, his three children; has a proven track record as a businessman, public service in the Florida legislature and now as a member of the United States Congress,” said Republican lawmaker Chip Roy (Tex.).

Opponents of GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) bid to become speaker rallied to Donalds’s candidacy with a standing ovation after Roy noted the historic nature of the nomination. 

Roy invoked Martin Luther King’s name and played up Donalds’ race during the nomination process.

Also from the Post:

Roy referred to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech while nominating Donalds. And he spoke of Donalds’s journey from growing up in Brooklyn as a Democrat to being one of the few Black Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“We do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character,” the Texan said. “Byron Donalds is a good man raised by a single mom who moved past adversity, became a Christian man at the age of 21 and has devoted his life to advancing the cause for his family and his country and he has done it admirably.”

Donalds’ nomination is likely both short-lived as well as yet another example of Republicans using Black people are political props.

On the other side of the aisle, House Democrats have been united in support of Jeffries ever since Nancy Pelosi announced in November that she wouldn’t be seeking reelection as the party’s leader.

Instead, she and Democrats’ other senior House leaders have rallied around Jeffries, the fifth-highest-ranking Democrat in Congress, to be the next House Minority Leader, which seems all but inevitable at this point.

That near certainty stands in stark contrast to what is happening with House Republicans.

This is America.


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