2021 Speaker of the United States House of Representatives election
Needed to win: Majority of the votes cast
427 votes cast, 214 needed for a majority
The 2021 Speaker of the United States House of Representatives election was held on January 3, 2021, on the opening day of the 117th United States Congress, two months after the 2020 elections for the United States House of Representatives. This was the 127th speaker of the House of Representatives election since the office was created in 1789.
The incumbent speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, was elected to a fourth (second consecutive) term, defeating Republican Kevin McCarthy 216–209, with two votes going to other individuals. As only 427 representatives in the 435-member House cast a vote (due to vacancies, absentees, or members voting present), 214 votes were necessary in order to win.
Process and conventions
The speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. The House elects its speaker at the beginning of a new Congress (i.e. biennially, after a general election) or when a speaker dies, resigns or is removed from the position intra-term. Since 1839, the House has elected speakers by roll call vote. Traditionally, each party's caucus or conference selects a candidate for the speakership from among its senior leaders prior to the roll call. Representatives are not restricted to voting for the candidate nominated by their party, but generally do, as the outcome of the election effectively determines which party has the majority and consequently will organize the House. Representatives that choose to vote for someone other than their party's nominated candidate usually vote for another member within the party or vote "present".
Moreover, as the Constitution does not explicitly state that the speaker must be an incumbent member of the House, it is permissible for representatives to vote for someone who is not a member of the House at the time, and non-members have received a few votes in various speaker elections over the past several years. Nevertheless, every person elected speaker has been a member.
To be elected speaker a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes cast, as opposed to an absolute majority of the full membership of the House – presently 218 votes, in a House of 435. There have only been a few instances during the past century where a person received a majority of the votes cast, and thus won the election, while failing to obtain a majority of the full membership. It happened most recently in January 2015 (114th Congress), when John Boehner was elected with 216 votes (as opposed to 218). Such a variation in the number of votes necessary to win a given election might arise due to vacancies, absentees, or members being present but not voting. If no candidate wins a majority of the "votes cast for a person by name," then the roll call is repeated until a speaker is elected. Multiple roll calls have been necessary only 14 times since 1789; and not since 1923 (68th Congress), when a closely divided House needed nine ballots to elect Frederick H. Gillett speaker. Upon winning election the new speaker is immediately sworn in by the Dean of the United States House of Representatives, the chamber's longest-serving member.
- Nancy Pelosi, incumbent speaker of the House, former Minority Leader, and current representative from California's 12th congressional district.
On November 17, 2020, Pelosi was nominated by voice vote without opposition.
- Kevin McCarthy, incumbent House Minority Leader, former House Majority Leader, and current representative from California's 23rd congressional district.
On November 17, 2020, McCarthy was nominated by voice vote without opposition.
Election of speaker
The election for speaker took place on January 3, 2021, at the start of the 117th Congress. In a break with tradition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all House members-elect did not gather together in the chamber to vote and record their presence, but rather, were summoned to the chambers in seven groups of about 72 persons. Three members-elect were absent from the proceedings, and two seats were vacant at the time.[a] Nancy Pelosi received a narrow majority of the 427 votes cast and was re-elected speaker; three persons answered present when their names were called.
|Democratic||Nancy Pelosi* (CA 12)||216||50.59|
|Republican||Kevin McCarthy (CA 23)||209||48.95|
|Democratic||Hakeem Jeffries (NY 8)||1||0.23|
Representatives voting for someone other than their party's speaker nominee were:
■ Conor Lamb, who voted for Hakeem Jeffries;
■ Jared Golden, who voted for U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, who was not a member of the House at the time.
Answering present were Democrats Mikie Sherrill, Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger. Representatives absent were Democrat Alcee Hastings and Republicans Maria Elvira Salazar and David Valadao.
- Forte, David F. "Essays on Article I: Speaker of the House". Heritage Guide to The Constitution. Heritage Foundation. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
- Heitshusen, Valerie; Beth, Richard S. (January 4, 2019). "Speakers of the House: Elections, 1913–2019" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
- Grier, Peter (September 25, 2015). "John Boehner exit: Anyone can run for House speaker, even you". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
- "Speaker Elections Decided by Multiple Ballots". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
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- "Election of the Speaker Overview". constitution.laws.com. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
- "Nancy Pelosi says she will seek another term as speaker if Democrats keep control of the House". USA Today.
- Wire, Sarah D. "Pelosi wins her party's nod for a final term as House speaker. That was the easy part ..." LA Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- Mascaro, Lisa. "Trump ally McCarthy is reelected leader of House Republicans". AP news. Associated Press. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- Pergram, Chad (January 3, 2021). "Pelosi faces trickiest speaker election yet as Democrats begin new Congress with slim majority". Fox News. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
- Caygle, Heather; Ferris, Sarah; Beavers, Olivia (January 3, 2021). "Pelosi reelected speaker despite narrow majority". Politico. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Peters, Cameron (January 3, 2021). "A historic new Congress has just been sworn in". vox.com. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Lillis, Mike; Wong, Scott (January 3, 2021). "Pelosi wins Speakership for fourth time in dramatic vote". The Hill. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Rogers, Alex; Fox, Lauren; Main, Alison (January 3, 2020). "Nancy Pelosi reelected speaker Sunday despite narrower majority". CNN. Retrieved January 4, 2021.