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Kevin McCarthy is out as speaker of the House. Here’s what’s next

by Joshua Brown
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House Speaker Ousting

Kevin McCarthy’s tenure as Speaker of the House has come to an unexpected and historic end. Following a concerted effort by far-right elements within his own party, spearheaded by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, McCarthy was ousted from his position with the unprecedented support of eight Republicans and all present Democrats. This move marks a significant departure from the norm, as McCarthy’s speakership lasted less than nine months, making him the first Speaker in history to be removed from office.

In response to this stunning turn of events, McCarthy announced that he would not seek re-election for the position. The House of Representatives now finds itself in a state of uncertainty, with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle left wondering about the path forward.

With McCarthy no longer in charge, the role of Speaker falls to Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, who assumes the position of acting speaker or speaker pro tempore. McHenry, a close ally of McCarthy, was selected from a list maintained by the Speaker for such contingencies. However, it’s important to note that McHenry’s powers are limited to those deemed “necessary and appropriate” for the purpose of electing a new Speaker, according to the House rules. He cannot bring legislation to the floor, issue subpoenas, or conduct other official House business that requires the Speaker’s approval.

The immediate priority for McHenry is to oversee the election of a new Speaker. At this juncture, it remains uncertain who House Republicans will nominate for the position. While some members initially intended to renominate McCarthy, his withdrawal opens the door for other candidates to step forward. Potential consensus candidates being discussed include Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Whip Tom Emmer, Rep. Kevin Hern (chair of the Republican Study Committee), and Rep. Jim Jordan (chair of the House Judiciary Committee).

Once a nominee is chosen, the House will hold a series of votes until a candidate receives a majority of votes from those present and voting. This process can be time-consuming, as was witnessed in January when it took McCarthy an unprecedented 15 rounds of voting to secure the speakership.

Upon the election of a new Speaker, a customary procedure would involve a bipartisan committee escorting the Speaker-elect to the dais, where the oath of office is administered. This oath mirrors the one taken by new members, symbolizing the transfer of leadership. The role of the minority leader in this process is to join the successor at the speaker’s chair, passing the gavel as a sign of their potential future working relationship.

The future of the House of Representatives is now uncertain as it navigates uncharted waters following Kevin McCarthy’s removal from the Speaker’s position. The next steps will be closely watched by both political observers and the American public as the House seeks to establish new leadership.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about House Speaker Ousting

What led to Kevin McCarthy’s removal as Speaker of the House?

Kevin McCarthy’s removal as Speaker of the House was the result of a far-right effort led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, which gained support from eight Republicans and all present Democrats. This led to the passing of a resolution known as a “motion to vacate,” making McCarthy the first Speaker in history to be removed from office.

Who is currently in charge of the House of Representatives?

Following Kevin McCarthy’s removal, Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry assumed the role of acting speaker or speaker pro tempore. However, it’s important to note that McHenry’s powers are limited and do not include the ability to bring legislation to the floor or issue subpoenas.

What is the next step in the House of Representatives?

The next step in the House is to elect a new Speaker. It remains uncertain who House Republicans will nominate for the speakership, but some potential candidates being discussed include Steve Scalise, Tom Emmer, Kevin Hern, and Jim Jordan. The House will conduct a series of votes until a candidate receives a majority of votes from those present and voting.

What is the customary procedure for electing a new Speaker?

The customary procedure involves a bipartisan committee escorting the Speaker-elect to the dais, where the oath of office is administered. This oath is identical to the one taken by new members and signifies the transfer of leadership. The minority leader typically joins the successor at the speaker’s chair, passing the gavel as a symbol of their potential future working relationship.

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