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Updated: October 6, 2023, at 5:33 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) told The Crimson Thursday that he doesn’t want to “rule anything out at this point” regarding a potential bipartisan effort to make a moderate Republican the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
No clear favorite for the speakership has emerged since eight far-right House Republicans voted with 208 Democrats to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the position. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) filed a resolution to oust McCarthy following dissatisfaction with a last-minute resolution that avoided a government shutdown.
McCarthy has since announced he would not pursue the position again.
“If there comes an opportunity for Democrats to work with somebody — work with a Republican — to pursue the speakership, then they should come forward and approach us with their ideas,” Castro said, citing experience in a Democratic minority in the Texas legislature that elected a moderate Republican speaker through a bipartisan effort.
“I think it’s unlikely — especially given the names that have been floated — but at this point, I think for the sake of the country and for the sake of our constituents, I think we ought to have open ears,” he added.
Castro, a graduate of Harvard Law School, voiced displeasure with the outstanding slate of potential speaker candidates. The list includes Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and former President Donald Trump.
“I would hope that they would choose somebody more moderate who can work with all sides,” Castro said. “I don’t want to name names because it wouldn’t help them anyway, but there are a few and I mean a few — a handful of people — who could probably achieve that goal of working with both sides, but it’s not any of the people that have been mentioned so far.”
Castro said he believes if Trump “intimidates Republicans in the way that he has since he emerged on the scene,” it would be challenging for other candidates to compete.
“If Donald Trump really wanted to become speaker of the House, he probably could, because the Republican Party has now been built around Donald Trump,” Castro said.
Castro said he was not worried that House Democrats’ decision to vote against McCarthy would lead to a speaker who is more difficult to work with as McCarthy was already “doing everything he could to please the far-right.”
“Functionally, I don’t know how different even a Jim Jordan or somebody like that would be,” Castro said.
The Crimson interviewed Castro prior to a Harvard Institute of Politics forum that celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month. During the event, Castro and former Obama White House official Alejandra M. Campoverdi discussed social and economic mobility for first-generation Americans through the lens of their own experiences.
Campoverdi likened taking an unpaid role in Obama’s campaign while still paying off student loan debt from her master’s in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School to “blindfolded cliff-jumping.”
“I did what I thought I could do, which was get a zero APR credit card and start living off it, and I took an unpaid position,” Campoverdi said, adding that people can “skip all this” when they see Harvard and the White House on her resume.
“Those were decisions that I made, but it shouldn’t have to be so existential to get involved with our political system,” she added.
Castro and Campoverdi also discussed the importance of breaking down societal stereotypes of Latinx individuals.
“We deserve the whole person. We deserve to be multi-dimensional and have nuanced stories that aren’t only these ‘rags-to-riches’ stories,” Campoverdi said.
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