Democratic centrists offer to back McHenry as temporary House leader

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In a letter addressed to House Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) that was obtained by The Hill, the group of Democrats said they would support temporarily expanding his authority, which would allow the chamber to take up urgent bills including government funding and foreign aid.

“In light of our nation’s pressing issues, a looming government shutdown, and the attacks on our key ally, Israel, we strongly support an immediate vote to expand the Speaker Pro Tempore’s authorities to all for the consideration of a legislative agenda limited to the most pressing issues,” the letter said.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) suggested Congress expand the abilities of the temporary speaker in 15-day increments until a new speaker is chosen. All four of the authors are leaders of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

They said McHenry should be able to bring before the House proposed legislation that only covers specific areas.

The group suggests McHenry should be able to introduce foreign aid and emergency funding for Ukraine and Israel, an extension of the current continuing resolution through Jan. 11 to prevent a government shutdown and the consideration of the remaining appropriations bills.

The letter said the Speaker Pro Tempore should also be granted the ability to introduce suspension bills to be evenly distributed among the majority and minority caucuses. They said “this will help us avoid Rules Committee gridlock.”

The letter is intended to restart movement in a House that’s reached its 10th day without a speaker. Members have discussed ways to give McHenry more temporary power but have run into opposition from conservatives.

Speaker designate Steve Scalise (R-La.) dropped out Thursday after failing to receive enough support from GOP members. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) became the new nominee Friday in a closed-door vote.

The next government spending deadline is Nov. 17, but the House cannot vote on a spending plan if a Speaker is not elected.

“The government cannot continue to be hamstrung – leaving American families, our economy and nation security at risk,” the letter said. “We hope you’d agree that we must restart the business of the House of Representatives without delay.”

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