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

by Madison Thomas
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Speaker Removal

Kevin McCarthy’s tenure as the Speaker of the House has come to an abrupt end, marking a historic moment in the House of Representatives. The push to remove McCarthy from the speakership, led by far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, was successful with the support of eight Republicans and all present Democrats. This unprecedented move makes McCarthy the first speaker in history to be ousted from office, a deeply humiliating outcome for him, considering he held the position for less than nine months.

Following the vote, Kevin McCarthy announced that he would not seek re-election for the position. This surprising turn of events has left both Republican and Democratic lawmakers uncertain about what the future holds for the House of Representatives.

With McCarthy stepping down, Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry has assumed the role of acting speaker. McHenry, a close ally of McCarthy, was selected from a list that the speaker is required to maintain, designating members who can serve in the event of a vacancy. However, it’s important to note that McHenry’s powers as acting speaker are limited to those necessary and appropriate for the purpose of electing a new speaker, according to the House rules. He lacks the authority to bring legislation to the floor, issue subpoenas, or approve other official House business that requires the speaker’s approval.

The immediate priority for McHenry is to facilitate the election of a new speaker. Currently, it remains uncertain who House Republicans will nominate for the speakership. Some members initially intended to nominate McCarthy, but with his withdrawal from consideration, the field is wide open for any Republican to enter the race. 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), who is favored by the right-wing faction of the party.

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

Upon the election of a new speaker, the clerk will announce the results, and a bipartisan committee, usually comprised of members from the speaker-elect’s home state, will escort them to the speaker’s chair. There, the oath of office will be administered, identical to the one taken by new members. It is customary for the minority leader to join the successor at the speaker’s chair, symbolizing the potential future working relationship between the leaders of both parties.

The outcome of this unprecedented political situation in the House of Representatives remains uncertain, with the future leadership of the House hanging in the balance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Speaker Removal

Q: Why was Kevin McCarthy removed from the position of Speaker of the House?

A: Kevin McCarthy was removed from the position of Speaker of the House following a successful effort by a group of far-right Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, with support from Democrats. This move marked a historic moment in the House of Representatives as McCarthy became the first speaker in history to be removed from office.

Q: Who is currently in charge of the House of Representatives after Kevin McCarthy’s removal?

A: After Kevin McCarthy’s removal, Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry assumed the role of acting speaker or speaker pro tempore. McHenry was selected from a list maintained by the speaker, designating members who can serve in this position in case of a vacancy. However, McHenry’s powers are limited to what is necessary and appropriate for the purpose of electing a new speaker, as per House rules.

Q: What are the next steps in the House of Representatives following Kevin McCarthy’s removal?

A: The immediate priority is to elect a new speaker. It is currently unclear who House Republicans will nominate for the speakership since some members initially intended to nominate McCarthy. With McCarthy out of the running, any Republican can enter the race. Potential 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).

Q: How does the process of electing a new speaker work?

A: The House will hold repeated votes until a candidate receives a majority of the votes from those present and voting. This process can be lengthy and challenging, as seen when it took McCarthy an unprecedented 15 rounds of voting to secure the speakership in January. Once a new speaker is elected, a bipartisan committee will escort the speaker-elect to the chair on the dais, where the oath of office will be administered.

Q: What is the significance of the minority leader joining the new speaker at the chair?

A: It is customary for the minority leader to join the successor at the speaker’s chair, symbolizing the potential future working relationship between the leaders of both parties. This gesture reflects the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation in the House of Representatives.

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