After 9/11, the House of Representatives decided that they needed to have a system where there would be a Speaker pro tempore if they were ever to be without a Speaker of the House if our leaders were killed or incapacitated.
Well, the Speaker of the House position is as vacant now, no different than if someone was killed. With no Speaker of the House in place and no real front-runners for the position who can attain 217 votes after voting out Speaker Kevin McCarthy (not even Jim Jordan as of the writing of this article), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) holds the temporary gavel in the House of Representatives. When McCarthy became Speaker, he had to decide who he wanted to appoint as Speaker pro temper and McHenry was at the top of the list.
Since McHenry became Speaker pro tempore per McCarthy’s appointment, he hasn’t tried to test the limits of his power. But he can. And he should. It would be a lesson to Republicans who can’t get their crap together and find 217 votes for a candidate. It’s called leadership.
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The House rule says, “The Member acting as Speaker pro tempore under this provision may exercise such authorities of the Office of Speaker as may be necessary and appropriate pending the election of a Speaker or Speaker pro tempore.”
I think McHenry needs to get the House back to business. Real business. Not what’s been going on lately. According to the Associated Press, “Day after day, McHenry, in his signature bow tie, follows a standard routine – gaveling the House into session, receiving a prayer from the chaplain and having a lawmaker recite the Pledge of Allegiance, before quickly gaveling out again. In doing so, he is technically keeping the House active but in a suspended state as both parties wait for Republicans to reach consensus on who will be the next new speaker.”
Some, like me, are arguing for McHenry to do more including bringing resolutions and legislation to the House floor.
Democrats don’t seem to want to keep McHenry in power which is probably enough reason to do so. Rep. Jim McGovern, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, said on social media that McHenry’s “job is to guide the House toward the election of a new Speaker. That’s it.”
Everyone seems to have their own interpretation of the House rule which are obviously open to interpretation. Therefore, McHenry needs to interpret on his own what he believes to be “necessary and appropriate” and get the show on the road.