DALLAS — He hasn’t even been sworn in yet, and congressman-elect Keith Self is already part of congressional history.
“What I did today was, I voted my district,” Self told WFAA on Tuesday night.
Self was among the 20 Republicans who voted against presumptive House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on three consecutive ballots.
Because Republicans, who hold a slim majority, could not come to a consensus, the House adjourned without electing a speaker.
And until there is a speaker, members cannot be sworn in.
It's the first time in 100 years that a House has not been able to elect a speaker.
“The majority of my constituents have voiced their concerns about one - the Speaker of the House, but even moreso they want change,” Self said.
Self was elected in November to a district that includes much of Collin and Hunt counties. He is the former Collin County judge.
Self said over the course of the last couple months since his election, he's been proud of the new rules members have helped develop to govern House processes.
He believes those rules would change the power structure in Congress, giving more authority to members who aren’t chairs of committees or in positions of leadership.
“As I saw the process develop, I realized some of the more moderate Republicans have made concessions – and that’s their word not mine – concessions in order to get Kevin across the line. I don’t see them as actually believing in the rules. And if the majority of the majority doesn’t believe in the rules we’ve established, I’m not certain they’ll be enforced,” he said.
“What I actually heard was – if you don’t vote for Kevin, some of these rules will go away,” he said. “That’s not encouraging to me.”
Self joined fellow Texas Republicans Chip Roy of Austin and Michael Cloud of Corpus Christi in voting for congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio for speaker.
Jordan has said it’s a job he does not want.
“The reason I voted for Jim Jordan is because I believe he’s the man with the vision,” Self said. “He’s the man with the charisma, he’s the man with the plan for this Congress going forward.”
Self admitted he doesn’t know if Jordan can win.
Self was on his way to a Republican meeting when he spoke with WFAA on Tuesday.
He said he might be able to be swayed to change his vote if fellow members of Congress prove they are committed to enforcing the new rules.
Self also said he was not concerned about his party looking divided or dysfunctional.
“This is what the House should look like,” he said, talking about the debate and discussion among party members. “This is the people’s House. They sent me here to do the people’s work on the floor of the people’s House. And that’s what we did today.”