After week without House speaker, Phillips says Republicans appear no closer to choosing new leader
(KSTP) – One week after the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Republicans remain unable to coalesce around a new leader in a stalemate that threatens to keep Congress partly shuttered indefinitely.
Temporary House Speaker Patrick McHenry put an angry exclamation point on a House session after McCarthy was ousted when Matt Gaetz moved to vacate the speaker position. Ultimately, eight Republicans joined all House Democrats to oust McCarthy.
“Former Speaker McCarthy didn’t ask for a lifeline,” Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., said. “We actually threw him one; he did not want it. He would not navigate through this with us, we Democrats.”
Phillips, Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District representative, voted to remove McCarthy after he says McCarthy claimed he didn’t need help from Democrats.
Phillips now acknowledges the speaker vacancy suddenly became a bigger problem after the surprise attack by Hamas on Israel.
“We are absent a speaker right now and we cannot do anything,” Phillips told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “We cannot provide aid to Israel and Ukraine. We cannot pass a budget. Which, by the way, our continuing resolution is going to expire in about a month.”
GOP Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Steve Scalise of Louisiana are the leading contenders to replace McCarthy, but Phillips says he wouldn’t be surprised to see Republicans go in another direction.
“I suspect it will not be among the names that are at the top of the ticket right now. I think our own Tom Emmer could be one of those possibilities bridging kind of the right and more moderate flanks of his conference,” Phillips said.
“It’s not clear he wants to be speaker. He has not announced a candidacy at this point,” Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier said of Emmer.
Emmer, the House whip who represents Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last week that he plans to run for House majority leader and support Scalise for speaker. Schier also thinks that because Emmer is from a blue state, it makes him an unlikely choice for speaker.
“It’s very likely that whomever becomes speaker will be more conservative and from a redder state than Kevin McCarthy, of California, and I really don’t think Tom Emmer fits that profile,” Schier said.
Republicans are expected to hear from speaker candidates in private on Tuesday night, with a first vote possible on Wednesday. However, Scalise and Jordan currently seem to be splitting the vote, and McHenry has shown little interest in expanding his power beyond the interim role he was assigned.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.