Two new members of Congress have fallen into the presidential line of succession following a tumultuous week in politics that saw the next House Speaker elected.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are second and third in line to the presidency after the new Congress was sworn in earlier this month. They follow Vice President Harris, who will remain first in line. While Murray was easily elected president pro tempore of the Senate on Tuesday, McCarthy was not elected to Speaker until the early hours of Saturday morning after a group of GOP holdouts forced the House to conduct 15 rounds of voting.
McCarthy clinched the House Speakership after making multiple concessions to those holdouts, including allowing a single member to issue a motion to vacate the chair. The 15 ballots it took to elect McCarthy marked this Speaker election as the fifth-longest by number of ballots and the longest since before the Civil War.
As Speaker, McCarthy is second in line to the presidency. Before McCarthy was elected, Harris and Murray held the top two spots in the line of succession, marking the second time the top spots were held by women.
Murray, who was first sworn into the Senate in 1993, became the first woman to hold the president pro tempore position after she was sworn in by Harris. The most senior member of the majority party usually becomes president pro tempore. Although Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) is currently the most senior member of the Democratic Party, she declined the position, which led Murray to assume the position as the second most senior senator of the party.
After Murray, members of Biden’s Cabinet hold the remaining spots in line to the presidency, starting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken as fourth in line to the presidency. The remaining 14 spots are held by the remaining members of the Cabinet, including the Secretary of Defense and the attorney general. In total, there are 17 spots in line to the presidency.