Updated Oct 19, 2023 - Politics & Policy

What to know about Patrick McHenry, temporary House speaker

Patrick McHenry

Patrick McHenry at the U.S. Capitol on October 11. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

After two weeks of disagreement and disarray, the House may ultimately decide to empower acting speaker Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) to be temporary speaker.

Why it matters: With McHenry as a short-term speaker, the House could resume passing key legislation as a Nov. 17 deadline to avert a government shutdown approaches.

Catch up quick: The historic ousting of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the speakership earlier this month kicked off a contentious race for a permanent replacement.

What is McHenry's background?

McHenry, 47, is currently serving his 10th term in the House, having first been elected to Congress in 2004.

  • He represents solidly Republican district that covers parts of central and western North Carolina.
  • Born and raised in North Carolina, McHenry graduated from Belmont Abbey College with a bachelor's in history, according to a biography on his website.
  • Prior to joining Congress, McHenry served in the North Carolina state House of Representatives and worked as a special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Labor during the Bush administration.
  • His wife, Giulia McHenry, heads the Office of Economics and Analytics at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • The couple has three children.

Where does McHenry fit into the House GOP?

Upon becoming speaker earlier this year, McCarthy drafted a list of potential successors — in accordance with protocol — listing McHenry at the top, per AP.

  • The interim speakership role is his most high-profile one to date in the House, per AP.

Of note: Unlike Scalise, Jordan and McCarthy, McHenry was among the Republicans who voted to certify the 2020 presidential election in favor of Biden.

  • McHenry has said he supported Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections.

How could Republicans make McHenry temporary speaker?

In order to empower McHenry, whose authority as interim speaker is limited, the House would need to pass a resolution granting him expanded powers. This would enable him to do things like advance funding legislation.

  • Centrist Republicans and Democrats are discussing a short-term measure to grant McHenry added powers.
  • There's "essentially no difference" between a speaker and an empowered short term speaker when it comes to House operations, according to Punchbowl News.

Yes, but: There are questions about whether a temporary speaker would be in line for the presidency or participate certain high-level intelligence briefings.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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