(Bloomberg) -- The conservative revolt that brought down now-former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has left the chamber in a state of paralysis until a new speaker is found. That raises the chances of a US government shutdown next month and a delay in further Ukraine assistance. Here are the next steps the House faces:
Who’s now in charge?
Patrick McHenry, Republican of North Carolina, is now the speaker pro-tem. Under the rules, he is limited in his powers and likely unable to conduct any normal legislative business. His primary task is to organize the election of a new speaker. If an impasse over choosing someone for that position ensues, the House could grant McHenry time-limited authority to preside over debate and votes on ordinary bills. That, however, would take a majority vote.
When will a new speaker be chosen?
McCarthy’s decision not to run again speeds up the process of finding a new speaker. If he had tried a war of attrition with the eight Republican opponents who brought about his downfall, he would have dragged out the process. McHenry has announced his intention to hold speaker elections Wednesday, Oct. 11. The House Republican majority will hold a closed-door forum on Tuesday, where candidates can put themselves up for the job. The conference would then vote to select their nominee for speakership. If a strong candidate emerges, McHenry plans to proceed with votes on the floor to install a new speaker.
How does the speaker election work?
The election will be conducted by a roll call vote on the floor of the House. With two vacancies in the 435-member chamber, a candidate must get 217 votes to win if all members showed up and voted, and none abstained by voting “present.” In January, McCarthy became speaker, but only after a record 15 ballots. Uniting the Republican conference behind a consensus candidate will be difficult, given the differing goals of swing-district moderates and ultraconservatives who ousted McCarthy.
Who will run?
Possible candidates to replace McCarthy include senior leadership members Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota or Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York. The conservative Freedom Caucus could put forward its own candidate, although one potential prospect, Chip Roy of Texas, says he isn’t interested. Moderates could also angle for their own candidate like Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern and Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan are possible candidates. Some lawmakers are advocating for former President Donald Trump, though that is a long shot. It is possible because the speaker doesn’t have to be a member of Congress.
The Democrats have an easier path forward. They are expected to stick to nominating Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader.
What can the House do in the meantime?
The House has recessed until Oct. 10 with members heading home to their districts. Until a new speaker is chosen, it likely cannot conduct votes on legislation like pending fiscal 2024 spending bills. The rules have not been tested but the House rules-keeper is not expected to grant McHenry full speaker powers based on the limited role of the speaker pro-tem as outlined. House committees can conduct business however. That means the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden can continue, and two spending bills still before the Appropriations Committee can be approved there.
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