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House members consider who to nominate to be the next speaker

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio has become the first Republican to step forward. He wants the job of House speaker after Kevin McCarthy's ouster yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The yeas are 216. The nays are 210. The resolution is adopted. The office of speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant.

MARTÍNEZ: It's the first time in history that a House speaker has been removed this way. Eight Republicans, led by Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, joined all Democrats present in voting against McCarthy. Now, the question is how do Republican factions in the House get beyond their differences to elect a new speaker? A lot to get to, so we called on Republican strategist Brendan Buck. He worked for two House speakers, John Boehner and then Paul Ryan. He joins us now. Brendan, you worked for a couple of speakers who have faced GOP opposition but never this. What do you think the last couple of days have been like for Kevin McCarthy?

BRENDAN BUCK: Yeah, in some ways it's not all that surprising. It feels inevitable that this has been sort of the continuation of what we've seen in the House Republican conference. At the same time, it's still stunning. To hear that vote tally and actually have someone removed is, as you said, unprecedented. But it really speaks to a lot of the dysfunction that has existed in the House Republican conference for a very long time. Kevin McCarthy is now gone, and we have to find a new speaker, but the problems that he faced still exist. And so I fear that this - the challenges that House Republicans have had are only going to continue as we elect a new speaker.

MARTÍNEZ: So Brendan, the House won't meet again until next week. If GOP Reps head home to their districts, how do you think they'll explain what the state of the Republican Party is to their supporters?

BUCK: Yeah, that's really tough. You know, people send you to Washington to solve problems, and we were already under a tight deadline here. As you know, we just averted a government shutdown. We've got 40-something days to do it again. And now we have lost functionally two weeks to pass appropriations bills, keep the government open. And this is just the basic core functions of governing, not to mention the things you want to do. And that's where this has really broken down. The House has had trouble doing even the basic things, and that's ultimately what Kevin McCarthy paid the price for. It wasn't any sort of bold initiative that he was trying to push for. What triggered this was just a simple 45-day bill to keep the government open. It does not bode well for Republican governance going forward. I think that Republicans are going to have to sort of dismiss this as just internal housekeeping, but the problems that exist are really deep-seated.

MARTÍNEZ: Next step, though, is to elect his replacement. And McCarthy actually really wanted the job, so what characteristics do you think are a must for this job to keep the Republican conference united?

BUCK: Well, the first thing I'm going to be looking for is somebody who wants this job. And I don't say that flippantly. I don't know why you would want it.

MARTÍNEZ: McCarthy wanted this job. He really wanted this job.

BUCK: He sure did. He did a lot of things to get it. But as I said, the problems that he has, the next person is going to have potentially even more acutely. When McCarthy first got the job, he at least had a bit of a honeymoon, about six months before they had to do anything important. This person's - next person is going to be right in the meat grinder right away. So, you know, it's first who wants it, but who then is someone who can unite all of these factions? There have been a lot of promises that have been had to made. And I think whatever promises Kevin McCarthy had to make, the next person is going to have to make as well.

MARTÍNEZ: Brendan, really quick, will they decide by next Wednesday? Will they decide by next Wednesday - yes or no?

BUCK: I think so, yeah. I think that the people - they're known quantities.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. Republican strategist Brendan Buck, thanks a lot.

BUCK: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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