Proposal for temporary Speaker polarizes Florida’s congressional delegation
Image via AP

Patrick McHenry
Many House Republicans say a deal would violate the spirit of the Constitution.

Instead of hosting another vote to select a new Speaker, House Republicans may consider extending powers for the Speaker Pro Tempore. But that approach sparked polarized responses from Florida’s congressional delegation and may not make it out of conference.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, a Miami-Dade Republican, has called for a deal to leave U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry in charge and allow House business to move forward. It’s an approach he favored for days. U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, after coming short in a Speaker vote over two votes in two days, reportedly supported just such an arrangement as the House went into recess before a third expected vote.

“Our Speaker Designee Jim Jordan is supporting returning the House of Representatives to normalcy by empowering our Speaker Pro-Tempore Patrick McHenry until January,” Giménez posted on X. “We must get back to work for the American people and vote on the Floor — asap. It’s the right thing to do.”

But the plan may not move forward thanks to significant pushback within the Republican caucus.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, told reporters outside a GOP Conference meeting on a proposal this discussion turned “intense.”

“Just reading the room, I think it’s dead,” he said, according to reporter Jamie Dupree.

Both Giménez and Buchanan opposed elevating Jordan, the most recent GOP Conference choice for Speaker, on the last floor vote.

But some of Jordan’s most ardent supporters want to go back to the floor and oppose a plan to give McHenry more power. McHenry, hand-selected for his post by ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy, right now only has power to president over the selection of a new Speaker.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican who led the motion to remove McCarthy, told press that empowering McHenry was a bad move.

“I believe it is a constitutional desecration not to elect a Speaker of the House,” he told press outside the conference meeting.

“We need to stay here until we elect a Speaker. And if someone can’t get the votes we need to go on to the next person. But twisting and torturing the constitution to empower a temporary Speaker is having a Speaker-light. That is not constitutionally contemplated, it is deeply infirm and I will do everything possible to stop it.”

Another Jordan loyalist, U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, called the resolution “really dangerous.”

“We need to have a NORMAL election for Speaker,” Luna posted on X. “Jim Jordan, I respect you but it is a massive mistake to back this.”

Both Luna and Gaetz fought against McCarthy’s election as Speaker in January. But U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack, a Gainesville Republican who at one point gave a nominating speech for McCarthy, also came out publicly against a power expansion for McHenry.

“We should not set a dangerous precedent of increasing the powers of the Speaker Pro Tempore. I will reject any effort to do so,” she posted on X.

“Our focus needs to be on uniting as a body and electing our next Speaker of the House. We need to get back to the work we were hired to do. I am deeply appreciative to Patrick McHenry as our Speaker Pro Tempore for his adherence and allegiance to our Constitution. He has rejected any additional authorities that members of this conference have offered him whether it is by resolution or implied.”

She has supported Jordan for Speaker and will continue to do so, she said.

Of note, Democrats have hinted they could support a resolution giving temporary abilities to McHenry. U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Parkland Democrat, told MSNBC there may have to be an aisle-crossing solution to allow House business to move forward.

“If there is a bipartisan deal to empower the pro Tem, which I’m in favor of — I want to see the details first, of course — I’m in favor of it to get the House open, to pass an Israel package, to aid Ukraine, to do the people’s work here in the United States Congress,” he said.

“It’s going to have to be a bipartisan path forward, should Democrats empower the Pro-Tem, and all of a sudden we go back to the way it was and that deal is going to fall apart. We are where we are.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • PeterH

    October 19, 2023 at 3:46 pm

    Republicans who endorsed the failed Jim Jordan Speakership should be very worried about their own credibility if Sydney Powell has credible text, emails or other correspondence directly connecting members of Congress to Trump’s attempted coup! Why did Jim Jordan dodge an investigator’s subpoena? What is Jim Jordan hiding?

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