House Moves Toward Empowering McHenry As Temporary Speaker
Speaker pro tempore of the House Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., prepares to call for the first vote for Speaker of the House in the Capitol on Tuesday, October 17, 2023.
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The GOP-led House is poised to vote on giving broader powers to temporary Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) as Republicans struggle to elect a candidate to take the gavel full-time.

A decision to go this route emerged as a GOP conference meeting got underway on Thursday morning, according to multiple reports. It was not immediately clear when a vote would take place. Neither were specific details about a resolution that the House would consider.

McHenry has been serving as speaker pro tempore for a little over two weeks after the House took the unprecedented step of voting Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) out as speaker. Since then, there has been doubt about whether an acting speaker can do more than preside over debate and vote for a full-time speaker.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the GOP nominee, lost House floor votes on Tuesday and Wednesday with at least 20 Republican defectors voting for other people in the party in each ballot. Jordan remains in the race.

After a meeting with party leaders on Thursday, Jordan decided to support McHenry as interim speaker until January, according to PunchBowl News. This would give Jordan time to attempt to solidify support for his candidacy.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) got more votes than Jordan in both ballots but also failed to get a chamber-wide majority to win the gavel. He has pushed for a “bipartisan path forward” but has yet to comment directly on a bid to empower McHenry.

Some Republicans have voiced support for temporarily expanding McHenry’s power while others are opposed to the idea.

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said such a move is “about continuing the work of the American people while we select a new speaker.” He is one of the Republicans who resisted Jordan’s candidacy in both ballots this week and, along with Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), has been floating a resolution to empower McHenry.

“There is no path for a GOP-only empowerment of a Speaker Pro-Tem so it will necessarily require Democrat votes,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said in a post to X.

“It is, in any event, a fool’s errand – breaking with tradition & setting constitutionally questionable precedent to empower someone … who is NOT the duly elected Speaker but will be empowered to negotiate a [continuing resolution] & massive supplemental bills (approx. $100BB) for Israel & Ukraine (& $ to process more illegals),” he added. “It will then set the [House Republicans] up for a Xmas omni ‘deal.’ I strongly oppose.”

Ahead of gaveling the House into session at noon, McHenry told reporters that his “goal is to get Jim Jordan elected speaker as our speaker nominee.”

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