What would McHenry do as speaker? – POLITICO

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It’s the reason why Wall Street executives took comfort when he was involved in hashing out a debt-limit deal this year. After all, McHenry warned well in advance that it would be a bad idea to take federal borrowing hostage. McHenry serves as the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees banking, stock trading and cryptocurrency. McHenry sought out the post rather than a spot in GOP leadership, which he had a viable chance of getting. His stated mission as Financial Services chair has been to find bipartisan deals on policy and get bills signed into law. He’s tried to work closely with Rep. Maxine Waters, the panel’s top Democrat. He even drew criticism from the right earlier this year when he kept diversity and inclusion issues prioritized by Democrats on the committee’s agenda. So he’s perceived as a realist and a pragmatist. And that could be a problem when it comes to satisfying hard-liners like Rep. Matt Gaetz. “He has a worldview that I think would guide things,” said a former senior GOP aide granted anonymity. “But he’s flexible enough to work out deals. He’d be good at it in normal times. Whether the crazies want more of a fighter is a question.” Beyond banking and crypto policy, where does McHenry stand on the issues? McHenry is close to the middle of his party when you look at him through the lens of the DW-NOMINATE ideology score. Per that metric, he’s more conservative than 55 percent of the GOP conference. McHenry has consistently supported military aid for Ukraine, but he hasn’t been vocal about it. He’s talked about how climate change is real. He’s sidestepped some of the culture war issues that have come to define GOP politics. But he’s also said repeatedly that he doesn’t want to be speaker, and many Republicans take him at his word. Before last week’s speaker fiasco, lobbyists were bracing for McHenry to announce that he would retire from Congress — and at some point pursue a lucrative career in finance. “Conventional wisdom at the start of this Congress was McHenry would serve his final two years as chairman and then either retire or become speaker,” said one former Republican leadership staffer. “Nobody actually believed that speaker would be possible.” McHenry assumed office at 29 and has served for more than 18 years. The assumption that he might soon leave Congress isn’t based on hints he’s floating. It’s more about the professional and personal dynamics ahead of him. McHenry is term-limited in his Financial Services chairship and can’t keep doing it in the next Congress without a waiver. He has been openly reticent about wrangling conservatives as a member of GOP leadership, with the past week’s events likely confirming why. He faces the demands of having a young family, including three children. “Everything we have seen from McHenry since he came to Congress suggests that he would rather run his committee than run the House,” said Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at BTIG. “In the committee, he has a chance to dig deep on issues and help shape the debate and the resulting policies. As a speaker with this slim a majority, the next person holding the gavel will just be scrambling to survive.” But former Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t initially seek out the job, either. And some GOP lawmakers — including former Speaker Kevin McCarthy — have said McHenry should be granted the full powers of the job until a new speaker is elected. A McHenry spokesperson said: “Congressman McHenry’s responsibility to the conference and the institution is to facilitate the election of the next speaker. That is his focus at the moment.” Jasper Goodman contributed reporting.

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