Who is Patrick McHenry, speaker pro tempore of the House?

WASHINGTON — Until a new speaker is elected in the House of Representatives to replace Kevin McCarthy, the job of running the lower chamber of Congress will fall to Patrick McHenry Jr.

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Patrick McHenry, 47, a Republican representing North Carolina’s 10th congressional district, will wield the gavel when the House returns after a week recess next Tuesday.

He was elected to Congress as a 29-year-old in 2004, The New York Times reported. He was an aggressive agitator on the floor of the House and during cable news interviews, according to the newspaper.

McHenry was chief deputy whip to former Speaker John Boehner, who once predicted that the congressman would become the speaker one day, the Times reported.

In that post, McHenry took more of a low-profile role in the House, according to the newspaper.

“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,” McHenry told the News & Observer of Raleigh in 2017.

Here are some things to know about McHenry.

Personal life

McHenry, a North Carolina native, was born in Charlotte. According to the biography on his website, McHenry graduated from Ashbrook High School in Gastonia.

He attended North Carolina State University and then graduated from Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte with a bachelor of arts degree in history.

He married Giulia Cangiano and they have three children — daughters Cecelia Rose and Therese “Rese” Anne and one son, Peregrine “Perry” Callan.

Early politics

McHenry worked for Karl Rove during George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000, the News & Observer reported.

He was elected to represent the 109th District in North Carolina in the state’s House of Representatives, according to McHenry’s website.

He was also a special assistant to the secretary of labor in the Bush administration, according to the News & Observer.

McHenry was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2009 after serving one term in the state House.

Rise to power

In 2014, McHenry was selected by Steve Scalise, the newly elected GOP whip, as his right-hand man as chief deputy whip, The Wall Street Journal reported.

He served in that role until 2019. He was named chair of the House Financial Services Committee in January 2023, according to Fox News.

McHenry was not afraid to criticize then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and questioned the birthplace of then-President Barack Obama, the News & Observer reported. He also tangled with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2011.

“He used to frustrate the living daylights out of me,” Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, told The Wall Street Journal in 2015. “He and I now have a very good relationship, but we started out pretty rocky. I used to be thinking, ‘This young kid is a pain in the neck.’”

At the time, McHenry called the House “a much more sophisticated junior high school, the News & Observer reported.

“I’m blessed that I made it through those times,” McHenry told the newspaper.

“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. I was able to get more done when I slowed down and had respect for others. That took me three years of really making mistakes in order to figure out the better way to get things done. The key mark of proper leadership is actually learning and adapting from the mistakes you make.”

Could he become speaker?

McHenry’s name has been floated as a potential speaker, the News & Observer reported. If he is elected as speaker, he would become the second North Carolina representative to hold the position.

Nathaniel Macon served as speaker from 1801 to 1807. His portrait hung in McHenry’s office.

“It’s not a position I’ve dreamed of,” McHenry told the newspaper in 2017.

A congressional rules expert told Insider that the interim speaker could theoretically remain in power.

“The Speaker pro tem could stay in the chair,” Josh Huder, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “There’s not (a) forcing mechanism for a new election, nor are there any overt restrictions on the power the pro tem would wield. The support of the conference would dictate the durability of this.”

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