What does the House Speaker pro tempore do? Could he be president?

Following Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster as speaker of the House on Tuesday, Rep. Patrick McHenry was named as speaker pro tempore of the House.

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McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina, took over the gavel from McCarthy following the vote to remove him from his position.

So how did McHenry become speaker pro tempore? What will he doing the role?

Here’s what we know about the position and what McHenry can do.

What is a speaker pro tempore?

Under the Rules of the House, the speaker may designate a member to serve as speaker pro tempore, a person who acts as the body’s presiding officer in the speaker’s absence.

How was McHenry chosen?

Under House rules that went into place after the 911 terror attacks, McCarthy was required to provide the House clerk in January a then-secret list of members who could temporarily serve as Speaker of the House if the office became vacant.

McHenry, who is in his ninth term in the House, was revealed to be the first name on McCarthy’s list.

On Tuesday, he was appointed acting speaker for up to three legislative days.

What are his duties?

According to a guide to the chamber’s rules and procedures: the House speaker pro tempore “may exercise such authorities of the office of speaker as may be necessary and appropriate pending the election of a speaker or speaker pro tempore.”

Could he become president, like the speaker of the House who is in the line of succession in the federal government?

A constitutional expert told The Washington Post that it is likely that since he does not hold the title of speaker, he would likely not be in the presidential line of succession.

The speaker of the House follows the vice president in the presidential line of succession.

“The House is on untested ground,” said Sarah Binder, who studies congressional and legislative politics at the Brookings Institution.

She said McHenry can only fulfill duties that may be “necessary and appropriate” as speaker pro tempore pending an election of a speaker, but he cannot do much else.

“Prevailing view is that … McHenry can only exercise powers of speaker towards the end of conducting new speaker election,” she said in an email. “There are other experts outside the House who read the clause a bit more broadly to suggest that ‘necessary and appropriate’ could be broader than just overseeing an election.”

What has he done so far?

He closed out the session on Tuesday, slamming the gavel onto the desk.

Also on Tuesday, McHenry informed Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi that she had to move out of her honorary office at the Capitol while she was in California to pay tribute to the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

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