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After Kevin McCarthy, how will Republicans choose a new Speaker of the House? : NPR

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) enters his office at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, the day before he is elected president.

Puce Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) enters his office at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, the day before he is elected president.

Puce Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House is leaderless — and in uncharted territory — after eight Radical Republicans and United Democrats voted Tuesday to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in a historic 216-210 vote.

Basically, it cannot conduct any legislative work without an elected president. MPs must elect a new one before they can return to their to-do list, which includes funding the government to avoid a shutdown in the next 43 days.

North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, who chairs the Financial Services Committee, was named “chair pro tempore,” an acting role with limited authority. His first act was to declare the House in recess (with a particularly dramatic bang of the gavel).

While McCarthy refused to give it another chance, several House Republican leaders announced they would run: Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the Republican n °2 of the Chamber.

Candidates will need either 218 votes or a majority of lawmakers present to secure the presidency. It’s unclear how long that process would take — McCarthy needed 15 rounds of voting over four days to win the title.

Rep. Mark Alford of Missouri, a Republican who supported McCarthy, said Morning edition On Wednesday, his party has a plan to “move forward with a conservative agenda” and “show our body and our nation that we are not dysfunctional.”

He said House Republicans will meet Tuesday for a forum — led by McHenry and conference chair Elise Stefanik — during which presidential candidates can make their case. Lawmakers will vote the next day, he added.

“This is not the way it should have been done, but it’s a new day, it’s time to move forward,” Alford said. “Our ship has no rudder and we need to find it soon.”

Who wants to be Speaker of the House?

McCarthy wanted the job so much that he made several major concessions – including changing the rules to make it easier to challenge his leadership position – to far-right members of his party in order to get the votes he needed.

And the problems he faced are unlikely to abate for his successor, GOP strategists said. Morning edition. In fact, they say it might even be harder, given that the dysfunction is so deep and the House has so much urgent work to do.

“When McCarthy got the job, he had at least a little honeymoon, about six months, before he had to do anything major,” said Brendan Buck, who worked for past presidents of the Chamber, John Boehner and Paul Ryan. “The next person is going to end up in the meat grinder right away.”

Who wants to participate besides Scalise and Jordan? Republican study committee Chairman Kevin Hern, R-Okla., is also a potential candidate.

“There might be some dark horses, but I think people are going to watch what the big names are doing before they really make any aggressive moves right now,” said Republican Party strategist Liam Donovan.

It’s possible McHenry will hold his position for weeks. As acting president, McHenry’s authority “hasn’t been tested. There’s no playbook. There’s no book. It’s never been done before,” he told the reporters Rep. Garret Graves, R-La.

Montana Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale, one of eight Republicans who joined Democrats in voting Tuesday to remove McCarthy as president, said Tuesday: All things Considered that when it comes to hearing from candidates at next week’s forum, “the No. 1 trait I’m looking for is someone I can trust, someone I can trust, that when they commit to the (Republican) conference, that when they leave this room, that they will not go back on their commitments.” Rosendale and other GOP members who voted to fire McCarthy criticized the former president for pushing a bipartisan bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.

“We have to find a compromise because we have divided the government, but you cannot allow the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to accept the dictates of the Democratic Party, they cannot dictate our policy,” Rosendale said .

What would stop this from happening again?

Infighting within the party brought the House to this moment. What does this mean for its future?

Buck notes that Congress struggled “to do even the basic things, and that’s ultimately why Kevin McCarthy paid the price.”

“It wasn’t a bold initiative that he was trying to promote, what triggered this was just a simple 45-day bill to keep the government open,” he adds. “It doesn’t bode well for Republican governance going forward. I think Republicans are going to have to sort of look at this as just a matter of housekeeping, but the problems that exist are really deep-rooted.”

Donovan agrees and thinks the way the process unfolded may have galvanized the party. He believes that most House Republicans, except for the eight hard-liners who ousted McCarthy, are united to some extent.

The question, he adds, is how to get around outliers in a House where Republicans hold such a slim majority. Does proposing legislation now mean endangering the presidency?

“Looking forward, it seems like if you make a deal, there will be a handful of people looking to take you down,” Donovan adds. “So I think there needs to be some understanding between the minority and the majority that we’re not going to punish people for doing the right thing.”

Rep. Alford says one thing that would help is to change the rule that allows only one lawmaker to request a motion to vacate the chair. He said Morning edition that he has long favored the need for a majority of the majority – “50 percent plus one” – to initiate this process. He said the current iteration cost McCarthy his job as president.

“It was simply too much power, vested in so few people, that could determine the course of history,” he added. “And I think that put Kevin McCarthy in jeopardy from the start.”


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