The unexpected escalation between Hamas and Israel increases the necessity for House Republicans to come to agreement on who is succeeding Kevin McCarthy quickly.
The House Republicans removed McCarthy from power six days ago. Over the weekend Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel which has killed more than 700 people, including 11 Americans. Israel declared war with Hamas and launched air strikes within Gaza that have killed hundreds more.
Early Monday night, in spite of the federal holiday, House Republicans returned to Washington and met behind closed doors for more than 2 hours to talk about the vacancy. However, no decision on a replacement was made.
Due to the empty leadership role, McCarthy will still be assuming some of the roles of his old job. McCarthy has been accusing GOP Rep. Matt Geatz as well as other opponents of undermining the national security of the U.S. and Israel.
A new speaker must be appointed before the House can pass emergency military aid for Israel and adding onto that Congress needs to pass a new spending bill by mid-November in order to avoid a government shutdown.
According to NBC, although the Senate is also currently out of session for the week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that due to the attack on Israel, it “will try to hold a classified briefing they can receive their states as soon as possible so we can get additional details.”
On Sunday night, Interim speaker Rep. Patrick McHenry was able to participate in an unclassified conference call on the conflict. It is currently unknown whether or not he will be able to attend classified briefings in the Capitol this week as President Joe Biden would need to grant him that authority.
In order to appoint a new speaker Republicans need 217 of their 221 members to approve and agree on a new speaker as they are not expecting any Democratic support.
It is not currently known when the house will hold a vote to elect a new speaker. Republicans will be holding a closed-door candidates forum on Tuesday and expect to hold an internal election on Wednesday. However, whether they will be able to reach an agreement and actually elect a speaker on the same day remains in question.
Two of the major candidates for Speaker are Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Scalise is the majority leader and No. 2 Republican and Jordan is a right-wing firebrand and key Donald Trump supporter who is one of the chairs of the Judiciary Committee.
McCarthy refused to endorse either candidate on Monday and has kept the door open to returning as speaker. He emphasized how that is a decision for the conference and that will support whatever decision they make. He also highlighted how the House is unable to do anything without a speaker.
He also commented that if eight members can throw out a speaker for trying to govern, “no one’s going to be successful.”
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