What to Know in Washington: Here’s Who Might Replace McCarthy

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After a handful of conservative hardliners ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy yesterday, Republicans have to decide who to turn to next to try and manage their slim and unruly majority and lead the House.

A number of current GOP leaders could emerge in coming days, although at this point they remain loyal to McCarthy (R-Calif.) and opposed to any efforts to remove him.

Photo illustration: Jonathan Hurtarte/Bloomberg Government; Photos: Getty Images
Potential replacements for Kevin McCarthy from left to right: Reps. Tom Cole, Tom Emmer, Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik, and Jim Jordan.

Speaker pro-tem Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is one of McCarthy’s most trusted lieutenants. Known for his penchant for bow ties and policy acumen, McHenry’s first act upon taking the dais was to advise members of each party to deliberate on choices for speaker, Laura Davison reports.

McHenry has announced his intention to hold speaker elections on Oct. 11. The House Republican majority will hold a closed-door forum on Oct. 10, where candidates can put themselves up for the job. The conference would then vote to select their nominee for speakership. If a strong candidate emerges, McHenry plans to proceed with votes on the floor to install a new speaker. Erik Wasson and Billy House have more on what’s next for the House.

However, McCarthy allies and critics alike worry there might not be another lawmaker who can win enough support from the conference to take over, leaving the House effectively unable to operate.

Here are some possible contenders for the top job:

Rep. Steve Scalise: As the majority leader, the affable lawmaker from Louisiana is the second-ranking Republican and so, theoretically, he’d be first in line. Scalise has a more conservative profile than McCarthy, potentially helping him win over Freedom Caucus and other conservative members.

Rep. Tom Emmer: The former hockey player and GOP whip is now the conference’s third-ranking member, so, like Scalise, it makes sense that he would be in the mix. As whip, he has been charged with building bridges across the conference.

Rep. Elise Stefanik: Another current leader, Stefanik is the GOP’s fourth-in-command. Once seen as a moderate New Yorker, the Harvard-educated Stefanik in recent years has remade herself as a full-throated Donald Trump loyalist.

Rep. Jim Jordan: Jordan is probably the most prominent Trump ally in the House and one of the few figures who might actually please the party’s restive far right. But swing-district Republicans would almost certainly be wary of such a hard right turn.

Maeve Sheehey and Jonathan Tamari round up more names.


  • The president will announce more student debt cancellation around 1:00 p.m.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a briefing at 1:30 p.m.


  • The House has suspended business until next week.
  • The Senate meets at 10 a.m. and will vote around 11:30 a.m. on James O’Brien’s confirmation as an assistant secretary of state.
  • For more details on the full agenda read BGOV’s Congress Tracker

More on McCarthy’s Downfall

MCCARTHY rose to the top of the GOP in part, by his prolific fundraising. His removal leaves much uncertainty about who might step in to fill his fundraising shoes and what happens to McCarthy’s own remaining political money.

  • Even some of the lawmakers who voted to oust McCarthy have received donations from his coffers or benefited from his fundraising, including Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) this year. McCarthy’s leadership PAC donated $10,000 to her campaign this year, according to FEC records.
  • Additionally, he’s helped raise big money for outside groups aligned with the party, including the Congressional Leadership Fund, the chief super PAC for House Republicans. Read more.

REP. MATT ROSENDALE helped to fire McCarthy and is now weighing a Senate bid against Jon Tester (R-Mont.). However, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Daines and other GOP senators are backing declared candidate Tim Sheehy. Read more.

Across the Administration

Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg
President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.

BIDEN will announce today his efforts to cancel an additional $9 billion in student-loan debt, which will bring relief for 125,000 borrowers through changes to programs intended to aid public servants, Americans with disabilities, and low-income borrowers, according to the White House. Read more.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS were again barred by the Fifth Circuit from pushing social media companies to moderate vaccine misinformation on their websites.

  • The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit partially affirmed the decision of a lower court to preliminarily enjoin certain members of the administration for allegedly infringing the First Amendment rights of users who posted “divisive” content about Covid-19, election fraud, and Hunter Biden’s laptop. Read more.

MIGUEL CARDONA is seeking to lead the Education Department while also rallying Democratic voters against conservative efforts to shape teachings about race, gender, and sexuality in classrooms. Pandemic school closures — which left many children falling behind, and enraged parents — added to the angst.

  • Republicans fired up by culture wars are vowing to abolish the Education Department if they win back the White House. Read more.

Military and Foreign Affairs

SEN. BEN CARDIN blocked military aid to Egypt days after Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) stepped down as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair over allegations that he took bribes to help the Egyptian government.

  • At issue is $235 million in foreign military financing — Egypt’s share of US funds provided to countries as either a grant or a loan to allow them to purchase defense equipment.
  • “My hold on current funds will remain until specific human rights progress is made,” Cardin (D-Md.), the new chair, said in a statement. Read more.

THE US ARMY is creating a professional recruiting force and targeting youth with more than a high school degree after it fell 15,000 soldiers short of its aggressive recruiting goal of 65,000 for the last 12 months, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said yesterday. Read more.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brandon Lee at blee@bgov.com; Jeannie Baumann at jbaumann@bloombergindustry.com

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