Politics

McHenry open to expanding his powers as acting speaker — but only with a ‘formal vote’

Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry for the first time Friday publicly said he’s open to a vote that would formally expand his powers as the top House Republican.

Such a vote, which centrist GOP lawmakers have been floating for more than a week, would allow legislative business to function in the lower chamber after 17 turbulent days without a speaker.

“If there’s a formalized vote for a speaker pro tem, it can be done,” McHenry told reporters after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) failed to secure the gavel in a third ballot, losing even more votes than the previous two rounds.

When asked if he’d be open to that, McHenry responded: “Yes.”

“It has proven to be constitutional,” he said. “There’s a way through this and a way that the institution can function, but you have to have a formal vote to do anything else.”

The North Carolina Republican said he would be opposed to any kind of workaround in which the GOP pushes him to move legislation without a formal vote to expand his powers. He confirmed that he threatened to resign as acting speaker during a lengthy meeting with Republicans on Thursday if thrust into that situation, which he sees as potentially unconstitutional.

“If they attempted to do that, that is directly what I said: You’d find out who’s next on the list,” McHenry said, referring to the next lawmaker in line to serve as acting speaker. A closely held secret, McHenry declined to say who that person would be.

NBC first reported McHenry’s threat to resign.

During that GOP conference meeting on Thursday, Republicans wrestled with whether to vote on a resolution from Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) to empower McHenry through Jan. 3. Members argued over the length of time, the scope of McHenry’s powers and whether working with Democrats to pass the resolution would fuel even more unrest within the GOP. Republicans shelved the idea as they left the meeting, saying it lacked adequate support within the conference.

Republicans are now set to gather Friday afternoon in another meeting to discuss a way forward, with Jordan steadily losing support for his speaker bid after 25 Republicans voted against him in a third ballot on Friday morning.

“Look, you can count the votes on the floor,” McHenry said. “You can see what the last week of work has resulted in. We sit today with fewer Republican votes than we did at the beginning of the week, and that’s a serious challenge that we’re gonna have to work through.”

But McHenry said Jordan still deserved more time to shore up votes, if possible. He had said the same thing about Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), who mounted his bid before Jordan and promptly dropped out when he lacked the votes.

“I said that to him directly,” McHenry said of Scalise. “He deserved more time to put his votes together. I owe the same courtesy to Speaker-Designate Jordan — for him to have the time to go build his votes.”

Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry for the first time Friday publicly said he’s open to a vote that would formally expand his powers as the top House Republican.
Such a vote, which centrist GOP lawmakers have been floating for more than a week, would allow legislative business to function in the lower chamber after 17 turbulent days without a speaker.
“If there’s a formalized vote for a speaker pro tem, it can be done,” McHenry told reporters after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) failed to secure the gavel in a third ballot, losing even more votes than the previous two rounds.
When asked if he’d be open to that, McHenry responded: “Yes.”
“It has proven to be constitutional,” he said. “There’s a way through this and a way that the institution can function, but you have to have a formal vote to do anything else.”
The North Carolina Republican said he would be opposed to any kind of workaround in which the GOP pushes him to move legislation without a formal vote to expand his powers. He confirmed that he threatened to resign as acting speaker during a lengthy meeting with Republicans on Thursday if thrust into that situation, which he sees as potentially unconstitutional.
“If they attempted to do that, that is directly what I said: You’d find out who’s next on the list,” McHenry said, referring to the next lawmaker in line to serve as acting speaker. A closely held secret, McHenry declined to say who that person would be.
NBC first reported McHenry’s threat to resign.
During that GOP conference meeting on Thursday, Republicans wrestled with whether to vote on a resolution from Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) to empower McHenry through Jan. 3. Members argued over the length of time, the scope of McHenry’s powers and whether working with Democrats to pass the resolution would fuel even more unrest within the GOP. Republicans shelved the idea as they left the meeting, saying it lacked adequate support within the conference.
Republicans are now set to gather Friday afternoon in another meeting to discuss a way forward, with Jordan steadily losing support for his speaker bid after 25 Republicans voted against him in a third ballot on Friday morning.
“Look, you can count the votes on the floor,” McHenry said. “You can see what the last week of work has resulted in. We sit today with fewer Republican votes than we did at the beginning of the week, and that’s a serious challenge that we’re gonna have to work through.”
But McHenry said Jordan still deserved more time to shore up votes, if possible. He had said the same thing about Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), who mounted his bid before Jordan and promptly dropped out when he lacked the votes.
“I said that to him directly,” McHenry said of Scalise. “He deserved more time to put his votes together. I owe the same courtesy to Speaker-Designate Jordan — for him to have the time to go build his votes.”  

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