President Joe Biden is skillfully avoiding getting caught up in the speakership fight in the House of Representatives. When asked for his advice on the matter, Biden made it clear that it was not his role to intervene. He smartly recognized that it was a decision for the House to make on its own. In his signature humorous style, Biden said, “That’s above my pay grade.”
As expected, some conservatives took issue with Biden’s response, but it’s clear that he understands the importance of a functional Congress. He emphasized the need to avoid last-minute government shutdowns and the poisonous atmosphere in Washington. While he spoke of working in a bipartisan manner, he didn’t provide specific details on how that would happen.
Biden also recognized the possible impact of dysfunction on Ukraine funding and promised a major speech on the importance of honoring commitments. However, he won’t be extending the same effort to the speakership saga. Democratic strategist Stefan Hankin agrees with this approach, pointing out that Biden shouldn’t get involved in the internal affairs of Congress if the far-right faction isn’t seeking his guidance.
On a more egalitarian note, Hankin highlighted the separation of powers and suggested that Biden should refrain from interfering. The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, echoed this sentiment, expressing the hope that a new speaker would be chosen quickly to address the urgent challenges facing the nation. However, she reiterated that it is the House’s responsibility to make the selection.
The White House may face tougher challenges with the new speaker than it did with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and hard-liner House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan are gaining endorsements, and former President Donald Trump has also expressed interest in getting involved. Despite Biden’s deep knowledge of Congress from his years as a senator, he is wisely choosing to stay out of the battle and follow the principle of separation of powers.
Presidents in the past have tried to exert their influence by hosting members of Congress or working them over the phone, but Biden understands that forcing coalitions in this particular fight may not be beneficial. Democratic strategist Tom Cochran agrees, emphasizing that it is Congress’ responsibility to fix Congress. Biden is making the right call by letting the House handle this matter on its own.