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October 20, 2015

Politics Monday: Biden for president? Why doesn’t anyone want to be House Speaker?


Speculation continued this week over whether Vice President Joe Biden will enter the Democratic race for president and whether Republican Paul Ryan will run for the embattled Speaker of the House position.

Although Biden has been flirting with the idea for several months, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report said the person probably most eager to know is Hillary Clinton. Potential donors to Clinton’s campaign may be waiting to hear about Biden’s decision before signing their checks, Walter said.

Clinton will have another obstacle to overcome this week as she testifies before the congressional committee on Benghazi about her use of a personal email account during her time as Secretary of State.

Republican members of the committee have made her emails a major issue by saying they could have led to security breaches. Democrats accuse them of using the committee as a way of politically targeting Clinton.

The hearing will likely take several hours and multiple rounds of questioning, during which Clinton will need to maintain her composure, according to NPR’s Tamara Keith. “The pressure is still going to be on her to be statesmanlike,” Keith said.

Meanwhile, the important role of Speaker of the House — third in line for the presidency after the vice president — has become undesirable due to a divide among House Republicans.

The government has two major deadlines approaching with the nation’s debt ceiling and a bill to fund highway transportation improvement, so finding someone to fill the role and unite Republicans is critical, according to Walter.


Speaker of the House – the leading member of the U.S. House of Representatives who is elected by members of the majority party; the speaker runs the debates on the House floor, appoints committee members, and refers bills to committees

2012 Benghazi attack – an attack by violent extremists in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya

partisanship – firm support or bias of a particular party, group or cause

debt ceiling — a legislative limit on how much money the federal government can borrow

Warm up questions
  1. What does the Speaker of the House do?
  2. Who is the vice president of the United States?
  3. What do you know about Hillary Clinton?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why are Republicans finding it difficult to choose a new Speaker of the House?
  2. How should Hillary Clinton handle the allegations regarding the 2012 Benghazi attacks?
  3. Do you think candidates should use social media to criticize one another? Why or why not?
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