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Who could replace McCarthy as House speaker? It remains unclear


Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) was ousted as speaker Tuesday night, plunging Congress into confusion over who would lead the GOP in the House of Representatives. It remained unclear Wednesday morning who would fill that role, as multiple Republicans jumped into the candidate pool.

Immediately after the vote to push McCarthy out, Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) ascended to temporarily fill the role as speaker pro tempore. Under House rules, McHenry will serve until the election of the next House speaker or speaker pro tempore.

McHenry could make the case to run for the position permanently, though he has previously indicated he would not want to be speaker. He currently serves as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

The House is expected to hold a candidate forum Tuesday for contenders to make their case for the position, with an election to be held soon after that. Here’s who is expected to run:

Steve Scalise

Scalise, the No. 2 Republican leader in the House, said he will run for speaker.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise

As the second-most powerful Republican in the House, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is perhaps the most likely contender to succeed McCarthy. On Wednesday, Scalise released a letter that he sent to his fellow lawmakers, asking for their support in his run for House speaker.

Scalise announced this summer that he was diagnosed with blood cancer and was undergoing treatment. He was seriously wounded in 2017 when a gunman fired on lawmakers during a congressional baseball game in Virginia.

“During that time, I was often asked why after nearly losing my life because of this job I would want to go back,” Scalise wrote in the letter. “But it was never a question for me: I love this country, and I believe we were sent here to come together and solve the immense challenges we face.”

Scalise called for his congressional colleagues to “mend the deep wounds that exist within our Conference,” a nod to the difficult path he’d face uniting a fractured Republican Party. Eight Republicans voted with House Democrats on Tuesday to oust McCarthy.

Jim Jordan walks among reporters

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio is also vying to become speaker.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the House Judiciary Committee chairman known for his loyalty to former President Trump, announced Wednesday that he would seek the speaker’s seat.

Under his leadership, the Judiciary Committee has delved into the Georgia indictment of former President Trump and others over his attempts to overturn that state’s 2020 election results, accusing Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis of conducting a politically motivated case during an election season.

In a letter to colleagues Wednesday, Jordan ticked off what he said to be his accomplishments, including holding the Biden administration accountable. As judiciary chairman, Jordan led the first hearing of a House impeachment inquiry into President Biden that alleged improper links — so for unsubstantiated — to his son Hunter Biden’s overseas business.

He also called on his Republican colleagues to work together. Jordan already garnered the support of some Republicans, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who prompted McCarthy’s ouster. Gaetz wrote on social media Tuesday, “My mentor Jim Jordan would be great!”

Hakeem Jeffries

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is his party’s choice for speaker, but almost certainly won’t win any Republican votes.

(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) will almost assuredly run for the position, despite the fact there is virtually no path for his election because Republicans hold the majority.

During the speaker nominating process in January, House Democrats repeatedly voted for Jeffries. After 15 rounds of voting, House Republicans narrowly elected McCarthy for the post he held until Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Jeffries instructed his Democratic colleagues to vote against McCarthy, delivering 208 of the 216 votes it took to vacate McCarthy’s position.

“House Democrats will continue to put people over politics and work together in a bipartisan way to make life better for everyday Americans,” Jeffries said in a statement after the ouster. “It is our hope that traditional Republicans will walk away from MAGA extremism and join us in partnership for the good of the country.”





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