With Speaker Vote In Chaos, Former Rep. Justin Amash Offers To Step In

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Former Michigan Rep. Justin Amash is offering to serve as Speaker of the House in the event that Republicans and Democrats can not elect a sitting member to lead the lower chamber.

“I’m here because I think this process is really uncertain where it goes. And I think I provide a good alternative to a lot of the options being discussed,” Amash told reporters at the Capitol. “I’m just here at this point because this is interesting, this is exciting in many ways. I think it’s a positive thing for representative government that we have a disagreement on the floor.” (RELATED: Speaker Vote Heads To Second Ballot For First Time In 100 Years)

Amash, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus who served in Congress from 2011-21, left the GOP to become an independent in 2019. He later joined the Libertarian Party, unsuccessfully seeking its presidential nomination in 2020. The Speaker of the House is not constitutionally required to be a member of the body, although no non-representative has ever held the position before.

“The problem is ultimately, do you trust the leadership? Because rules are suspended, rules are delayed, so what matters is, do you trust the person in charge?” Amash continued. “These 20 members or so do not trust Kevin McCarthy. I think that’s the bottom line. I don’t think it matters from their perspective precisely what’s in the rules package. They don’t trust the man. And that’s a reasonable concern.”

McCarthy has failed to ascend to the gavel after five Speaker votes. Nineteen Republicans voted against him on the first two ballots, 20 voted against him on the third, fourth, and fifth ballots. Indiana Rep. Victoria Spartz voted “present” on the fourth and fifth ballots.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) attends at a news conference with fellow House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Speaker vote had not gone to a second ballot since 1923. The 2023 race will be the ninth to go six ballots or more. (RELATED: ‘They Just Don’t Like Him’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Compares McCarthy Opponents To ‘Never Trump’)

Amash echoed the budgetary and rules concerns of McCarthy’s opponents, many of whom have demanded the end of omnibus spending packages, more time to read legislation, and the return of a committee-led legislative process. Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher argued in a nominating speech that McCarthy is supportive of the changes, but none of the Californian’s opponents flipped their votes.

“It’s not enough to say, the rules package looks good, so it doesn’t matter who the Speaker of the House is,” Amash said, while admitting that there is “not an appetite” for a unity speaker like him “in the first few rounds.”

Several members on both sides of the aisle have told the Daily Caller that they are committed to supporting their party leaders and would not be interested in other candidates.

“I’m voting only for Kevin,” Republican Florida Rep. Carlos Gimenez said

“I only have one candidate, and that’s Hakeem Jeffries,” Democratic Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty added.

“I am a retired Navy SEAL enlisted guy. I’ll let you in on a few universal truths. Rocks are heavy. Trees are made of wood. Gravity is real. No other Republican can pull 218,” incoming Republican Wisconsin Rep. Derrick Van Orden quipped.

Amash noted his relationships with members on both sides of the aisle as an argument in favor of his own speakership. He later spoke with a host of lawmakers, including GOP McCarthy opponent Matt Gaetz and Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the House floor.

“I have a lot of friends in the Freedom Caucus. I have a lot of friends outside the Freedom Caucus on the Republican side. But also, I built very good relationships with the Democrats. And, at the end of the day, it’s not just about do we agree on all the policies. Because we’re going to disagree on the policies. I have lots of disagreements with Freedom Caucus members on policies. The question is, who can bring people together in the House to have a Speaker who will unite Congress where a majority can vote for the person, a person who will open up the process and allow everyone to participate.”