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POLITICS

What happens now that Kevin McCarthy is ousted? When will the next Speaker of the House be elected?

A small group of fringe Republicans threw the House into chaos with the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy as Congress works to avert a government shutdown.

Update:
House GOP needs to find a new Speaker
JONATHAN ERNSTREUTERS

Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s tenure began with the most drawn-out speakership election since before the Civil War. Finally, after four days and 15 ballots he gained the gavel with 216 votes in favor, the same number that voted to remove him on Tuesday. Albeit the motion to vacate was supported by only eight Republicans with the rest of the votes in favor coming from Democrats who had had enough of the Speaker.

The seeds of his downfall were sown in the concessions that he had to give to the extreme right flank of the party in order to become Speaker in the first place. One of them was a change in House rules that allowed just one member to put forth a motion to vacate and force a vote on it.

That was done by Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida and member of the Freedom Caucus, on Monday. His reasoning for the action, which he had been threatening for days, was McCarthy’s last-minute stopgap bill to keep the government from shutting down at 12:01 Sunday 1 October. The bill, presented less than three hours before the deadline, passed with the help of Democrats and infuriated GOP hardliners.

The legislation, also known as a continuing resolution, gives Congress six weeks to pass 12 appropriations bills to fund the federal government’s operations. With McCarthy’s ouster House Republicans will have to find a new Speaker who will have to get members to agree on spending packages that will be able to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and meet President Biden’s approval before 17 November, or pass another extension.

What happens now that Kevin McCarthy is ousted?

In the short term, a temporary speaker will take over. Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina has been appointed as interim speaker, also known as the Speaker pro tempore. Unlike in January when McCarthy was struggling to get the speakership, the House could operate as normal and pass legislation in theory.

However, these are untested waters with McCarthy’s ouster being the first time in history a Motion to Vacate the Chair has been successful. It is also only the second time a vote on such a resolution has gone to the House floor.

Speakers have died while in office and Speaker Jim Wright resigned amidst scandal in 1989 but only once his replacement had been chosen. Speaker Sam Rayburn, a Democrat, died in office in November 1961, but his party had an overwhelming majority in the House. His temporary replacement Speaker John McCormack was elected to the post in early 1962.

Republicans hold a slim majority in the House and a fractious one at that. They will have to vote on a new permanent Speaker but who that will be is anyone’s guess at the moment.

When will the next Speaker of the House be elected?

The is no set rule on when a new permanent Speaker of the House must be elected. Republicans could set about the process immediately or put it off for some time later. McCarthy had to do a lot of horse trading to secure enough votes from both moderate and fringe Republicans to become Speaker and it is unlikely to be any different this time around.