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Who Is Patrick McHenry, the Interim House Speaker?

Who Is Patrick McHenry, the Interim House Speaker?


With the House leaderless after a right-wing faction ousted Kevin McCarthy from the speakership on Tuesday, Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina will temporarily take up the gavel as interim speaker.

Mr. McHenry, 47, was elected to Congress in 2004 at age 29, a rabble-rousing presence on the House floor and on cable news shows. He was chief deputy whip to former Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, who once predicted that Mr. McHenry would one day become speaker.

But over the last 18 years, Mr. McHenry has taken on a more low-profile role in the House, working behind the scenes and earning a reputation among other lawmakers for brainy wonkishness.

“What changed for me was once I slowed down enough to respect the process and to respect the people that I served with in the institution,” Mr. McHenry told the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., in 2017.

Among the potential candidates to succeed Mr. McCarthy, Mr. McHenry is the only one who voted to certify the 2020 presidential election. On Saturday, he voted with Democrats for the stopgap spending measure to keep the government open.

Mr. McHenry, though, seems unlikely to take on the role permanently. He chose not to run for a leadership role last year, deciding to lead the financial services committee instead.

He is close to Mr. McCarthy, and in May helped to negotiate the debt limit deal that so infuriated the hard-liners who deposed Mr. McCarthy, averting a default. Mr. McHenry spoke in his defense on the House floor on Tuesday, crediting the former speaker with creating a “record of success” for conservatives.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Mr. McHenry argued that Democrats should think long-term and support Mr. McCarthy’s bid to remain speaker.

“I think we will have a far more functional House with his speakership going forward than any other person,” Mr. McHenry said on Monday.


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