OAKLAND, Calif. - Bay Area Congressional representatives say the Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry canceled all votes for the rest of the week, after the stunning ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in a 216-210 vote that saw eight far-right Republicans join Democrats in support of vacating the House Speaker position.
"You could feel the gravity of the moment, as well this was history unfolding," said Bay Area Congressman Kevin Mullin Tuesday evening following the vote, "Nobody is celebrating this. It is a sober day for this institution. We need this institution to stabilize itself. We need a Speaker that will truly work in a bipartisan way."
The eight Republicans opposing McCarthy included Andy Biggs (AZ), Ken Buck (CO), Tim Burchett (TN), Eli Crane (AZ), Matt Gaetz (FL), Bob Good (VA), Nancy Mace (SC), and Matt Rosendale (MT).
Late Tuesday night, Congressman Gaetz, who led the ouster, spoke out and sharply criticized Speaker Pro Tem McHenry's decision to postpone any new votes.
"This is not the time to go home for a week. We should stay and elect a new speaker. That's the path ahead," said Rep. Gaetz.
The historic ouster of the Speaker sends the nation into unchartered territory.
"Legally there has to be a Speaker as a presiding officer for legislative business. The House as a collective body can't do anything unless there is a Speaker, a person to sign the bills that they transmit to the Senate," said UC Berkeley Political Science Professor Sean Gailmard.
Professor Gailmard says the House rules allow the Speaker Pro Tem to assume the powers of the Speaker to conduct business, and McHenry could even work with Democrats to pass bills.
"If they could agree on the legislation they want to move through the House, the Speaker Pro Tempore would be able to enroll the legislation, transmit it to the Senate," said Gailmard, "What the Speaker Pro Tempore can't do is act as symbolic elected political leader of their party simply because they have not been elected to do so."
"We are hoping it's somebody that we can trust and work with and restore some sense of trust and bipartisanship in the House," said Rep. Mullin.
Republicans need to resolve their divisions quickly, Professor Gailmard says, or the losers could be the American people.
"The stopgap funding measure which the House pushed through which precipitated all of this, is only going to last until mid-November," said Gailmard.
House Republicans say they are planning to reconvene next week and they possibly could hold a vote as early as Wednesday.