McCarthy’s ouster leaves the House adrift

Washington: The stunning removal of Kevin McCarthy as speaker has left the House adrift as Republicans struggle to bring order to their fractured majority and begin the difficult and potentially prolonged process of uniting around a new leader.

The House convened briefly Wednesday and then went into recess, with North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, the caretaker speaker pro tempore, serving in the job with very little power for the foreseeable future. Other Republicans left Washington, awaiting the next steps.

The House will try to elect a speaker as soon as next week. The timing is nowhere near certain as Republicans line up for their chance at the gavel amid the bitter divisions that sparked the chaos.

The House majority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., is in line for the post, but he faced an immediate challenge from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the Judiciary Committee chairman and a favorite of conservatives, who quickly announced his own candidacy. Others are expected to emerge.

McCarthy, who has yet to weigh in on who should be his successor, said Wednesday that he’s good friends with both men.

He added that “both would do great in the job.”

Many doubt that anyone can get the 218 votes needed to become speaker. Voting for McCarthy in January took 15 excruciating rounds even though he was the consensus choice of the GOP conference.

House Republicans plan to meet next Tuesday evening at the Capitol for a first round of internal party voting.

“I think the circus stuff needs to happen behind closed doors,” said Rep. Garret Graves, R-La.

It is shaping up to be a wide-open battle just as Congress faces a new deadline to fund the government by mid-November. Work on that legislation in the House is on hold due to the vacancy in the speaker’s office, creating the potential for extended paralysis.

At the White House, President Joe Biden said the American people still expected the government to get its work done in a timely fashion. McCarthy was ousted because he worked with Democrats to keep the government open and avoid a shutdown, and the Democratic president said, “We need to stop seeing each other as enemies.”

Image courtesy of Cheddar News

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