(ConservativeUnit.com)- The Speaker of the House of Representatives is arguably as present in American politics, even on an international stage, as the President of the United States. It’s one of the most significant roles in American politics and even comes with the responsibility of being second in line to the presidency after the vice president.
If both a president and vice president become incapacitated, the role of president is taken by the House Speaker.
Unlike the Senate Majority Leader in the other Congressional chamber, the Speaker is not a party office. Instead, the entire House votes for a House speaker, meaning a majority party will typically vote for a speaker of their own party.
Some of the most famous House Speakers in history are Nancy Pelosi, the anti-Trump Democrat from California, and Dennis Hastert, who is perhaps best known for being convicted in a hush-money case. Thomas Foley, who served as House Speaker between 1989 and 1995, is also particularly memorable for forcing Republican President Bush to accept new tax increases.
The Duties and Role of the Speaker
Unlike a party office, the House Speaker has more defined roles that go beyond being a representative of the party. This is, however, part of the job.
The House Speaker will act as a spokesperson for the party that they represent, which is typically the largest party in the House of Representatives. This gives the House Speaker a front-and-center role in American politics, allowing them to communicate their legislative agenda to the public and the press through press conferences.
As House Speaker, it is also their responsibility to meet regularly with the president to discuss legislative issues.
Unlike a traditional party role, however, the office of the House Speaker comes with the responsibility of appointing chairpersons and members of House committees and special committees. The House Speaker must also appoint members to the House Rules Committee and is granted power over the legislative process, including deciding when bills can be debated and voted on.
Partisan politics does play a part in the role, too, as the power to choose when bills are debated and voted on is often used to help ensure that legislation supported by his or her own party is passed. The question, however, is whether that same party holds the Senate and will be able to pass the legislation through that other Congressional chamber.
House speakers also make rules on disputed procedures, will administer the oath of office to people who are newly elected, will call meetings of the House to order, and – in an ideal world – ensure that members remain respectful.
All in all, it’s one of the most important positions in American politics.