Who is Patrick McHenry, the temporary House Speaker?

Patrick McHenry, currently serving as the Speaker Pro Tempore in the U.S. House of Representatives, has held this role for the past two weeks after Kevin McCarthy’s removal. He is a potential candidate for the actual Speaker position, as Republican efforts to elect a new Speaker have encountered challenges. Congressman Jim Jordan, a top contender, failed to secure sufficient votes, leaving the chamber leaderless and with minimal legislative activity. McHenry gained attention when he presided over the House and became viral for his forceful gaveling following McCarthy’s ouster. However, he has approached his role cautiously, refraining from pushing the boundaries of his unique position and mainly overseeing the procedural aspects of the House.

To restore a sense of normalcy and enable legislative progress, some have suggested granting McHenry more authority temporarily, instead of waiting for further rounds of speakership votes. The extent of a temporary speaker’s powers remains a topic of debate. Prominent former Republican Speakers, John Boehner and Newt Gingrich, support this proposal.

Patrick McHenry, a 47-year-old Republican, first entered Congress in 2004 as the youngest member and currently represents North Carolina’s 10th congressional district in his tenth term. He chairs the Committee on Financial Services and has a lengthy political career, having previously served in the North Carolina House of Representatives and worked on President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign.

While some of the top contenders for the speakership have raised doubts about the 2020 election, McHenry voted to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. He played a significant role in assisting McCarthy in becoming the Speaker and was a key negotiator in a debt limit deal that led to McCarthy’s removal, due to opposition from the far-right wing of the Republican Party. However, his actions also included a departure from tradition when he ordered former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, to vacate her office, which Pelosi criticized.

Beyond his recent high-profile role, McHenry considers his primary responsibility in Congress to be listening to the voters of the 10th district and acting as their representative in Washington. He emphasizes providing the highest level of constituent services in his home region of western North Carolina.

McHenry also saved a child from choking earlier this year, when he helped congressman Mike Lawler’s 15-month-old at an event. Lawler praised McHenry as a “good friend” who “became the favorite congressman in my household for my wife”, Lawler said.

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