House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced today that he is pulling out of the race to succeed retiring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). McCarthy made his surprise announcement at the start of a Republican meeting convened to choose the party’s nominee.
In the wake of McCarthy’s surprise announcement, a Republican vote to nominate a new speaker that was scheduled for Thursday afternoon was postponed by Boehner at McCarthy’s suggestion. The full House was scheduled to vote for speaker Oct. 29. Boehner said in a statement he will stay on as speaker until a new one is elected.
Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan said in a statement that Republicans need to “take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership.”
McCarthy had been widely expected to win the race to succeed Boehner and his withdrawal left no clear favorite. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers immediately afterward said they wouldn’t run, although an effort is being mounted to persuade Ryan to change his mind. Two others who were already running for speaker, Dan Webster of Florida and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, said they will continue to seek the position.
Many political observers say the timing of McCarthy’s decision could put the House of Representatives into a state of disarray just days from the first and most serious of a series of fiscal deadlines.
The U.S. Treasury Department has said it will exhaust its authority to borrow money to fund the government on Nov. 5. If Congress does not raise or suspend the federal government’s statutory borrowing limit, the federal government would default on its debt days later, which some economists suggest risks potential economic chaos with soaring interest rates and plunging stock prices.
Just over a month later, on Dec. 11, the current stopgap federal spending bill expires. Without congressional action, much of the federal government would shut down.
It is also unclear what impact the uncertainty over House leadership will have on ongoing efforts to rewrite a number of important federal education laws, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), better known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB; the federal special education law known as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (or IDEA); and federal laws governing school meals and school nutrition, currently titled the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act.
Many Republicans would like to see Paul Ryan make a run for the speaker’s job, but Ryan has so far said he would not.
“While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate,” Ryan said Thursday. “I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”