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Tenney says speaker vote is strengthening Republican party, encourages robust debate


The House of Representatives enters its fourth day of discussions and voting for a Speaker of the House. After Thursday's session, 20 Republicans voted against Kevin McCarthy for speaker.

Ahead of Thursday's congressional session, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-Canandaigua) said she wasn't sure when a speaker would be voted in. She said she wants the party to have another big conference to air out issues but hoped the process wouldn't go too long.

Tenney represented parts of central New York, the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier in the last Congress. After redistricting last year, Tenney was elected in November to represent the 24th Congressional District, which stretches from western New York to Jefferson County.

"Until we get sworn in, we can't really continue to help our constituents," Tenney said. "That's my biggest concern about this whole thing."

This is the first time in 100 years that a speaker vote has had multiple ballots. But Tenney said she believes these sessions are strengthening the Republican Party.

"Decrying this as some kind of dysfunction I think is wrong," Tenney said.

She points to debates by the Founding Fathers starting in 1776 which ultimately led to the Constitution in 1789. Tenney said just like then, they'll work toward a consensus and said this process shows the party is willing to tolerate a lot of different viewpoints.

"I think it shows that our party is open to ideas and open to robust debate," the congresswoman said. "I think the unity that the Democrats keep talking about really shows that they have almost an authoritarian type of system where there's no dissent."

Tenney said she doesn't believe 100% of Republicans will vote for McCarthy saying there will be some holdouts and that no speaker is ever perfect. Tenney has voted for McCarthy in every round of voting. But would she support another candidate other than McCarthy?

"There's a lot of members who I would support if they had the votes and they were nominated and would accept the job," Tenney said.

Tenney mentioned Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) as other potential good options. Both have supported McCarthy.

Until a Speaker is elected no business on the U.S. House floor can proceed. One issue — Republican U.S. Representative-elect George Santos, of New York's 3rd Congressional District, who is under scrutiny for admitting to lying about his academic, employment and financial history. Once a Speaker of the House is elected, they could launch investigations into Santos which could lead to a vote to expel him from Congress.

"I like George, I got to know him, but I'm extremely disappointed with this," Tenney said. "Very disappointed that he felt the need that he had to do this. Obviously very disappointing. I'm concerned about whether this is going to be an issue with his financial disclosure. Those types of issues have to be looked at by other entities."

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.