Kevin McCarthy has told the House Republican Conference that he will not be a candidate for Speaker when the House reconvenes to elect a Speaker. Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the Speaker pro tempore, has announced that no further votes will be conducted in the House this week.
The House Republican Conference is expected to reconvene for further deliberations on selecting a candidate for Speaker next Tuesday, October 10, when the House returns for business as previously scheduled by Majority Leader Steve Scalise. At this time, the path towards nominating a single Republican candidate for the floor and electing him/her Speaker of the House remains unclear.
Speaker Pro Tempore
Until today, no Speaker had been removed from the office in the history of the United States. There has been precedence for attempting to remove a Speaker from the office (1910), as well as multiple vacancies due to death or resignation (most recently John Boehner in 2015).
Following 9/11, the House created a provision in its Rules for the appointment of an interim Speaker to provide for a stable continuity of government. This provision requires that the Speaker create a list (upon assuming office) of replacements in the event of a vacancy. Only the Clerk possesses the list due to national security concerns.
Immediately upon passage of the Rep. Matt Gaetz’s privileged resolution earlier today, the Clerk informed Rep. McHenry that he is now interim Speaker of the House (i.e., Speaker pro tempore). Importantly, this interim position does not carry the same authority as an elected Speaker and McHenry is not in the line of presidential succession. The interim designation is solely to maintain stability and to preside over the election of a new Speaker.
Election of the Speaker
Unlike the opening week of this Congress and the 15 Speaker ballots that ensued, the House has constituted itself, has Rules in place, committees stood up, etc. Thus, while the pending business before the House is the election of a new Speaker, committees (and the House generally) can continue to function.
As a reminder, the election of the Speaker requires an absolute majority of those present and voting by manual roll call vote. With two vacancies in the House and assuming all Members are present and voting for election of the Speaker, the winning candidate will need 217 votes.