Republican Kevin McCarthy was voted out as speaker of the U.S. House by a margin of six votes on Tuesday.
Most Texas Republicans rallied behind McCarthy during the historic vote, which was instigated by a handful of ultra-conservative lawmakers.
Joseph Morton, who covers politics for the Dallas Morning News in D.C., said that Texas politicians split down party lines in the vote.
“All of the Texas Republicans who voted backed keeping McCarthy. There were two who missed the vote,” Morton said. “Congressman John Carter has been out for a little while, which typically signifies some health issues. We’re not quite sure why Representative Lance Gooden missed the vote, but he missed it. All the other 23 of the 25 Texas Republicans in the House backed McCarthy.”
Meanwhile, the Democrats in the House voted to remove McCarthy from the speakership.
“For them, it was a little bit of a sit back and, you know, have some popcorn, watch the Civil War on the other side,” Morton said. “I mean, they were kind of left out of this process a little bit. There were some suggestions that they might ride in to save McCarthy. But he’s been kind of a cheerleader for the impeachment inquiry. Democrats haven’t haven’t loved other things he’s done on legislation. So they were not inclined to save him here.”
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It is still unclear who will replace McCarthy as speaker.
“It was really shocking, especially after it happened. I think everybody thought or many people thought that Kevin McCarthy was just going to run again and we’d be back up there taking roll call vote after roll call vote with him trying to get to 218,” Morton said. “Troy Nehls, Texas Republican, walked into the conference meeting saying, ‘I’m telling you guys, McCarthy is going to be the next speaker again.’ Two minutes later, he walked out saying, ‘McCarthy just told us he’s not running.’ So it was really a bombshell, and everybody was just sort of stunned.”
Morton said lawmakers decided to return to the question of who will take over the speakership next week.
“It shouldn’t be lost in all this that we’re still on a clock to keep the government funded. They hit the snooze button for about six weeks with that deal over the weekend. But the clock is running on that,” he said. “As a practical matter, they can’t really pass major legislation until they figure out who the speaker is going to be. And they only have until November 17th to keep the government funded.
“So they’ve got a lot of work to do, and everybody’s trying to figure it out a little bit. This is unprecedented territory. Never happened before. So members looked a little dazed as they were walking away last night.”
Morton said that Republican Chip Roy of Austin will likely play a power broker role as the new speaker gets decided, though he isn’t hearing Roy’s name floated for the position at the moment. Another option is Steve Scalise from Louisiana, though he has been undergoing cancer treatments recently, which might impact his decision to take the role, according to Morton.
“One name that has been floated is Congressman Jodey Arrington from Lubbock,” Morton said. “He’s the House budget chair. Last night, reporters were kind of swarming him and asking him if he had any interest. And he just kept saying he likes his current job, which is another way of, you know, not saying no. So we’ll see if he ends up putting his hat in the ring.”