Interim Speaker Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) took advantage of his newly-acquired position in the wake of the historic ousting of former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) by immediately ordering former speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to vacate her office in the Capitol.
The building has a number of unlisted offices called hideaways that are typically reserved for high-ranking senators and representatives. Pelosi has occupied her hideaway office since her 2007 when she first became speaker. Former House majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was also ordered to vacate his hideaway office.
McHenry gave Pelosi less than 24 hours to clear out her belongings from the office before the door was rekeyed. It will be taken over by McCarthy, who, despite being the first speaker removed from the position in U.S. history, is still the former speaker.
Pelosi was not in Washington D.C. when the order came down. She is currently in California attending to funeral plans for former Sen. Diane Feinstein who passed away at the age of 90 on September 29. Pelosi said the move is a “break from tradition,” which seems expected given the current mood of Republicans in the House. Eight Republicans voted in league with Democrats to remove the gavel from McCarthy after an effort was initiated early this week by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
Gaetz claimed that McCarthy had lied to Republicans and had been working secret deals behind closed doors to provide aid for Ukraine that was stripped from a temporary funding bill passed at the eleventh hour on Saturday. The funding bill gives the House 45 days to reach a spending compromise, a process that is further endangered by Gaetz ‘move against McCarthy.
Until a speaker is seated, no official work can be done. Representatives are unable to meet in committee and cannot further legislation critical to keeping the nation running, paying armed service members, and meeting the debts incurred. While it is not set in stone when a new speaker could be named, it is expected that the process will take at least a week. McHenry indicated in a closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans that his intention is to hold a debate on October 10 with a vote coming on October 11.
Several established Republican representatives have already been indicated as likely to seek the speakership, including Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) who sought the position in January. The U.S. Constitution does not set clear guidance on who can be speaker and some, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have posited that former President Donald Trump could be named. This is unlikely since it would curtail his effort to regain the White House.
The chaos that has arisen as a result of the ousting of the speaker is likely to hurt the Republican party, both as a result of not being able to accomplish the work they were sent to Washington to do and at the ballot box as a significant number of voters see the political maneuvering as childish and vindictive. Gaetz has a personal grudge against McCarthy after the former speaker failed to prevent a House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and illegal campaign finance spending levied against Gaetz.