WASHINGTON (AP) -- The leader of the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday scheduled an House election to replace him for Oct. 29 and delayed votes for lower-level posts until after that -- a move widely seen as benefiting his preferred successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
House Republicans, reeling and divided in the aftermath of Boehner's resignation from one of Washington's most powerful jobs last month, had planned to vote Thursday by secret ballot for a new leadership team. But a number of members wanted more time to weigh their options and pursue rule changes.
The speaker is second in line to the presidency after the vice president and determines the legislative agenda.
Under the new plan, Thursday's vote will only be on the Republican's nominee for speaker. It will be followed by a floor vote in the full House on Oct. 29.
It will then be up to the new speaker to set an elections date for lower-level Republican posts from majority leader on down. The speaker is the only job in the House that's voted on by members of both parties in open session; the other jobs are selected internally by the party caucuses.
"This new process will ensure House Republicans have a strong, unified team to lead our conference and focus on the American people's priorities," Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.
But the change may also help McCarthy, who is working to lock up support to become speaker but facing an unexpected challenge from Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
McCarthy is the heavy favorite to prevail in the secret-ballot election Thursday, but the outcome on the floor is less certain because of potential opposition from the same 30-plus hard-line conservatives who pushed Boehner out.
The new process could allow McCarthy to lock up the nomination for speaker and give conservatives more time to potentially rally around one of their own for one of the lesser jobs.