NYT: House is paralyzed, with no speaker after McCarthy ouster

11:20 05.10.2023 •

After lawmakers voted to remove Representative Kevin McCarthy from the House speakership, they left Washington and went home to their districts.
Photo: The New York Times

This is the first time in the history (113 years) that a House speaker is removed. An interim speaker will be appointed until the elections, but the elections could be prolong and difficult. In January 2023, Congress has taken 15 rounds of voting until it chose McCarthy. Now the situation could repeat again – and the procedure for selecting a speaker could drag on for a long time. This will throw Congress into complete chaos as budget issues remain unresolved.

After a historic vote to remove the speaker, lawmakers departed Washington on Tuesday night with the House of Representatives in chaos and no clear sense of who might lead it, notes The New York Times.

The House of Representatives was in a state of paralysis on Wednesday, ground to a halt by the ouster of Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy and with no clear sense of who might succeed him — or when.

After a historic vote to remove Mr. McCarthy on Tuesday, 3 October, lawmakers quickly departed Washington and scattered to their districts around the country, abandoning the Capitol as Republicans remained deeply divided over who could lead their fractious majority.

“What now?” one Republican muttered aloud on the House floor just after the vote on Tuesday afternoon, the first time the chamber had ever removed a speaker from his post involuntarily.

It underscored the chaos now gripping the chamber, which is effectively frozen, without the ability to conduct legislative business, until a successor to Mr. McCarthy is chosen. The California Republican said late Tuesday that he would not seek the post again after being deposed by a hard-right rebellion.

The vacancy promised to tee up another potentially messy speaker election at a time when Congress has just over 40 days to avert another potential government shutdown. But it was not yet clear who might run.

Discussions on the future of the conference were being led by Representative Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina. Mr. McCarthy had named Mr. McHenry first on a list of potential interim speakers in the event of a calamity or vacancy, but he does not have power to run the chamber — only to preside over the election of a new speaker.

Any candidate would have to win a majority of the House, a tall order given the rift among Republicans that made it so difficult for Mr. McCarthy to win the post and do the job for the nine months that he held it. Right-wing Republicans have made clear that they will not support a speaker without assurances that they will see their priorities, including enacting deep spending cuts and severe immigration restrictions, met.

That is nearly impossible to promise given that Democrats control the Senate and the White House. And the situation could be a recipe for further dysfunction on Capitol Hill, most immediately in negotiations on federal spending. The House and Senate must agree by mid-November on the 12 annual appropriations bills to fund the government in the fiscal year that began on Sunday, something that cannot be done without a speaker in place.

Should a new Republican speaker be chosen, the pressure would be immense for that person to push for spending levels far below what Mr. McCarthy had agreed to in a debt deal with President Biden in the spring. Changing the terms of that deal would prompt a clash with the Senate, which is adhering to the agreement, writes NYT.

As one of his first acts as the acting speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry ordered former Speaker Nancy Pelosi to vacate her Capitol hideaway office by Wednesday, according to an email sent to her office viewed by POLITICO.

“Please vacate the space tomorrow, the room will be re-keyed,” wrote a top aide on the Republican-controlled House Administration Committee. The room was being reassigned by the acting speaker “for speaker office use,” the email said.

Here's an image from outside the office at around 8 p.m. as staff were spotted packing up:

McHenry, a close McCarthy ally, was first on his list to become acting speaker after the Californian was booted in a Tuesday afternoon vote.

Only a select few House lawmakers get hideaway offices in the Capitol, compared to their commonplace presence in the Senate.

Rep. Jim Jordan is having conversations with House GOP allies as he seriously entertains a bid for speaker, two Republicans with direct knowledge told POLITICO.

With Kevin McCarthy out of the speakership, the conservative Ohio Republican is weighing jumping into the competitive race to replace him.

Jordan, who once challenged McCarthy for the speakership before becoming his biggest defender among conservative hardliners, has grown in popularity with the conference in recent years, but some centrists and rank-and-file members may be cool to the idea of his ascension given his role in helping force out former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).


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