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Curbelo to vote no on Speaker of the House without lawmaking changes

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Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo joined a group of 19 House members from both parties who plan to vote against their party's nominee for Speaker of the House unless the nominee agrees to rule changes that would curb some of the power of party leaders and make it easier for bills with bipartisan support to pass the House of Representatives. 

The gambit, first reported by the Washington Post, is by members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of lawmakers who represent the centrist wings of both parties. Democrats who made the pledge would vote no if their party takes a majority in November while Republicans would do the same if they keep control unless the candidate for speaker supports their demands. 

The rule changes that the centrist lawmakers are demanding from either party's leadership include opening up amendments to change bills, making it easier for bills with bipartisan support to get a full vote and limiting the ability of a rogue group lawmakers to oust a sitting speaker, like conservative Freedom Caucus members did to John Boehner in 2015. The lawmakers are banking on either party winning a small majority in the November elections, meaning 9 or 10 votes could make the difference for minority leader Nancy Pelosi, majority leader Kevin McCarthy, or whoever else emerges as the front-runner for the Speaker's job. 

“We’re at a critical point in our country’s politics, and I’m proud to stand with colleagues from both parties to make Congress and its leaders work more effectively for the American people,” Curbelo said. “I truly believe the greatest challenges of our time require bipartisan solutions. We need House rules that encourage cooperation across the aisle and empower Members of the House to seek compromise and adequately represent all their constituents. I look forward to supporting a candidate for Speaker who believes in that vision as well.”

However, many of the lawmakers like Curbelo are facing tough reelection prospects of their own, meaning a portion of the 19 may not be in a position to force change next year. Curbelo faces Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in the November election and both are raising millions of dollars to win the most Democratic-leaning seat held by a Republican running for reelection. 

Two Democrats from Central Florida also signed the position, Rep. Stephanie Murphy and Rep. Darren Soto. Murphy faces a competitive reelection challenge while Soto is favored to win reelection after defeating former Rep. Allen Grayson in last month's primary.