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Question

Q30: What is the name of the current Speaker of the House of Representatives?

A. Nancy Pelosi
B. Mitch McConnell 
C. John Roberts 
D. Mike Pence

Question Background Information

Background

The position of Speaker of the House was created by Article I, Section 2, Clause 5, of the Constitution. It is the only congressional position mentioned in the Constitution:  

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.  

It appears that this role was a carryover from the Articles of Confederation. In Article IX of the Articles, it reads that Congress has the power to appoint one of their number to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years.  

The Framers also referred to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, which states that the House shall choose their own Speaker, appoint their own officers, and settle the rules and order of proceeding in their own House

The Speaker, who is second in line for the presidency, wields considerable power and is the highest-ranking member of the legislature. As leader of the House, he or she is able to determine which bills make it to the floor for debate and for vote. The choices made can significantly impact the direction that the nation takes. 

There are checks to this power. A majority of the speaker’s party can vote to remove the speaker from that role (in which case, the speaker resumes being a regular representative) This is called a “vote of no confidence.” In addition, as with all representatives, should the speaker fail to represent the interests of his or her constituents, the citizens of the speaker’s district will vote the speaker out of office.

Additional Content

Offline Activity

Introduction

This activity offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of what the Speaker of the House does by having them develop a “job description” in infographic form. This assignment will engage both verbal and visual learners. 

Preparation

  • Provide each group with a copy of The Speaker of the House. 
  • Provide each group with a sample infographic.
  • A rubric is available if this is a graded activity. 
  • Print a copy of the answer key for yourself.
  • Gather necessary art materials for the students (e.g. poster board, colored pencils, markers, old magazines, scissors, glue, etc.) or instruct them to bring them to class.

Required files


The Teaching Materials for this exercise includes a rubric and an answer key.

Teaching Materials.

Instructions

  1. Divide the class into three groups based on level. Group A is the group that needs some extra support. Group B is the core group that has the core knowledge to complete the activity. Group C is the enrichment group who have mastered the material and are prepared to extend their knowledge.
  2. Provide each group with the appropriate handouts and art materials.
    • If you wish, give the students the option of using pictures cut from old magazines to illustrate their infographic. Be sure to provide glue and scissors or have students bring the supplies themselves.
    • Provide, or instruct the students to bring, markers, crayons, etc. to class so that they can illustrate their work.
  3. Instruct students to work together to design an infographic that will explain the role of the Speaker of the House. They should include at least seven of the Speaker’s responsibilities.
  4. Circulate throughout the room as the students complete their infographics and to check for understanding.

Discussion Prompts

Below are two discussion prompts that can be used by teachers in a classroom setting. 

  • The first discussion prompt will be one that is designed to support students that are not really understanding the content in a way that would help them to answer the test question.
  • The second discussion prompt will be one that is designed to further student understanding of the content by making real-world connections, including connections to current events, and historical events. 

Background

The Speaker of the House is a particularly powerful position in the House. In one way, it gives the majority party additional control over the House because the Speaker is the one who appoints committees and schedules bills for debate. As a result, if desired, the Speaker can advance the majority party’s agenda and stall the minority party’s agenda. 

Prompt 1

Originally, the Speaker of the House was elected by all of the representatives. Today, the Speaker is usually chosen by the majority party in the House. Which practice do you think is better, for the entire House to vote for speaker, or for the majority party to do so? What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

Prompt 2 

The Speaker of the House is ostensibly a nonpartisan position, which means that whoever holds the position does not -- technically -- have a political affiliation, and instead serves the institution of the House. However, since the Speaker is selected by the majority party, he or she does have an affiliation and does use it to the party’s advantage at times. Do you think that the Speaker should be disconnected from party politics? Would that even be possible, or would it make organizing the House too difficult? Use current and past events to support your response.

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