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No, the speaker of the House does not have to be from the majority party

The speaker of the House can technically be anybody – as long as they are nominated and receive a majority of votes by House members.

On Jan. 4, the House of Representatives met for a second day to cast votes that would determine who would become speaker of the House. After a sixth vote, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is the House GOP leader, was not elected to the position.

McCarthy needs 218 votes in the House in order to take the seat as speaker.  

Google Trends data show that people online were asking if the speaker of the House has to be from the party that holds the majority. The Republican party currently has the majority. 


Does the speaker of the House have to be from the party that holds the majority?



This is false.

No, the speaker of the House does not have to be from the majority party. Anyone with a nomination and enough votes can be speaker.


The speaker is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives and is responsible for maintaining order and managing proceedings of the House. The speaker of the House is also third in line in presidential succession, which means should the president and vice president not be able to serve, the speaker would be the one sitting in the Oval Office. 

Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution says the “House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers,” but is vague on who can hold the position. 

The position doesn’t have to be held by the leader of the party. During the 2023 session, which began earlier this week, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) were also nominated.

The speaker doesn’t even have to be a member of the House of Representatives. In 2013 and 2015, former Secretary of State Colin Powell was nominated, according to data from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). In 2019, Sen. Tammy Duckwortth (D-Ill.) and Joe Biden, before he was president, were both nominated.

Also in 2015, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was nominated to be speaker, even though he wasn’t a member of the House.

More from VERIFY: There are no official members of the House until a speaker is sworn in

According to the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), the speaker is the only House officer that “traditionally has been chosen from the sitting membership of the House.” The Constitution doesn’t limit the selection from among the class, “but the practice has been followed invariably,” the GPO says.

According to House archives, the speaker position has always been held by a House member. The first elected speaker was in 1789. 

A speaker must be nominated, and then the House votes. A majority vote, of 218, must be reached in order for the speaker to be elected. If no candidate wins a majority, ballots are re-cast until a speaker is chosen. 

The 2023 session is only the 15th time in history multiple roll calls were necessary to vote for speaker, according to House archives. Thirteen of those times occurred before the Civil War “when party divisions were more nebulous.”

The last time a Speaker election required two or more votes on the floor happened in 1923.

In July 2021, Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) introduced a bill that would require the speaker to be a member of the House. The legislation was introduced after rumors swirled that former President Donald Trump would be nominated and voted into the role. The bill, known as the MEMBERS Resolution, has not been actioned since it was introduced in the House.

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