What is Rule 26 and could it keep Trump from being speaker of the House?

(The Hill) — A handful of Republicans have floated the possibility of electing former President Trump as the next House speaker, but that may not be possible under current GOP House conference rules.

“Rule 26” started trending on X — the platform previously known as Twitter — shortly after Republicans started talking about backing Trump to replace former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was ousted from his leadership position Tuesday afternoon. Many users pointed out that since the former president is under numerous felony indictments, he may not be able to serve in Republican leadership based on this rule.

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While the House speaker is not required to be a sitting member of Congress, it is still highly unlikely that Trump could garner enough House Republican votes to actually become speaker.

Here’s what to know about the rule.

What is Rule 26?

Rule 26 is included in the House Republican Conference Rules of the 118th Congress, which was approved in January.

It states that a “member of the Republican Leadership shall step aside if indicted for a felony for which a sentence of two or more years imprisonment may be imposed.”

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According to Rule 2, the speaker is included in the definition of leadership, alongside the Republican leader, the Republican whip, the chair of the Republican conference, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the chair of the Committee on Policy, the vice-chair of the Republican conference and the secretary of the Republican conference.

Why do some say Trump can’t be speaker under the current rule?

The current rule suggests that Trump could not hold a role in Republican leadership, including the speakership, since he has been indicted on numerous felony charges that can carry at least two years of imprisonment sentences.

The former president is facing a total of 91 criminal charges spread among four state and federal criminal indictments. Separately, he is also a party in more than a half-dozen civil lawsuits.

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However, it’s not clear that this rule would prevent members from simply nominating him for the role. The GOP conference is slated to meet next week to determine who should hold the gavel next.

Again, it is highly unlikely a Trump nomination would reach the votes necessary to make him Speaker.

Can Republicans vote to change it?

A majority of the House conference can vote to change their own rules, but it is rare that they would do so in the middle of a session.

Typically, rules are decided at the start of each session, which was in January.

Who is backing Trump for speaker? 

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) announced late Tuesday that he will file paperwork to nominate Trump for the role. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Greg Steube (R-Fla.) also said they would back Trump for Speaker.

McCarthy revealed on Tuesday that he would not run for the speakership again, leaving the door open for other Republicans to toss their hat in the ring.

Even though these Republicans voiced support for Trump as speaker, the former president has said he would not be interested in taking the job.

“No, I think that it’s not something I wanted. A lot of people bring it up. It’s brought up all the time,” he said last March. “No, it’s not something I want to do. I want to look at what’s happening, and then we’re going to be doing something else. No, it’s not something I would be interested in.”

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