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House Speakership: A 75-Year Timeline Of Mounting Frustration

Though it holds immense power, the House speakership seems like the worst job in Washington these days. Current Speaker John Boehner wants to leave, but after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suddenly dropped out of the contest, it could be anybody's race. Rep. Paul Ryan doesn't want to do it, though he's been prodded, and it's not clear any other candidate has enough consensus to win on the House floor. The House now plans to choose a new speaker at the end of this month, if it can.

Today's struggle seems like a lot of drama, but a look back at the speakership shows that, at least since the 1940s, it's had more than its share of tension, struggle and rebellion. And extreme partisanship on Capitol Hill has made the job even more unmanageable:

(We have a look at the rise of power in the House here, including why some earlier speakers were called czars).

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.