Hamas on Saturday launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing hundreds of people and escalating a decadeslong conflict in the region. President Joe Biden said that U.S. support for Israel is ironclad.
But as an unelected speaker pro tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., is effectively powerless on the matter. Under House rules, the interim speaker can act only on matters that relate to the election of a new speaker: gavel in, gavel out, and preside. That post-9/11 rule was designed for continuity of government, not for an unprecedented political situation like the current one. Two scholars with knowledge said the House would need to elect McHenry as speaker pro tem for that to change.