Following Jordan’s failure to win the needed votes to become speaker, support is growing behind a proposal to empower Rep. Patrick McHenry, who has been serving as the temporary speaker.
McHenry was appointed speaker pro tempore by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy under a rule that was adopted by the House after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. But given the unprecedented nature of McCarthy’s removal, the extent of McHenry’s authority has been unclear.
Since assuming the role, the North Carolina Republican has limited his acts to gaveling the House in and out of session and overseeing the election of a new speaker, though he also, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, to vacate offices in the Capitol.
But with the House remaining at a standstill, some Republican lawmakers — including two former speakers — believe the lower chamber should act to expand McHenry’s power.
“By electing Representative McHenry as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives, the House will be able to hold votes necessary to fund the government beyond the expiration of our current fiscal year,” Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania said in a statement Monday.
Kelly introduced a resolution that would elect McHenry speaker pro tempore until Nov. 17 or until a new speaker is elected, whichever comes first. He said in a letter to colleagues that according to the House parliamentarian, McHenry is speaker pro tempore by designation only, which limits his powers. But by formally electing him, the House would give McHenry the authority to move legislation to the floor.
In response to a social media post from Boehner expressing support for empowering McHenry, Ohio Rep. Dave Joyce wrote, “funny you mention it…” Rep. Carlos Gimenez, a Florida Republican opposes Jordan and has said he will not be persuaded to back the conservative, also posted on social media to urge giving McHenry more authority.
Any effort to empower McHenry would likely require support from House Democrats, and some have said they favor a vote to expand his authority to allow for consideration of a limited legislative agenda. Four Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus signed on to a letter urging an immediate vote, and the proposal was endorsed by the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist Democrats.