“I don’t regret standing up for choosing governance over grievance. It is my responsibility, it is my job. I do not regret negotiating,” Kevin McCarthy said these to reporters after last week’s vote to remove him from office.
“Our government is designed to find compromise. I don’t regret my efforts to build coalitions and find solutions. I was raised to solve problems, not create them,” he added.
His stoic outlook did not give away the hurt and humiliation he must have felt as the hard-right Republicans that he spent nine months placating endorsed his removal.
He goes down in history as the first person needing an unprecedented 15 rounds of votes to be elected as Speaker and the very first House Speaker to be removed from his post.
If there’s a lesson learnt from McCarthy’s ouster, it will be that his position was not secure in the first place.
McCarthy survived one of the longest and most chaotic speaker elections since the Civil War.
He held the gavel after an extraordinary 15 rounds of voting and not without making a lot of concessions, including a deal with the far right that would come back to impale him, the motion to vacate his seat.
He made it easier for him to be removed by agreeing to change the rules of the House to allow just one member to offer a motion to remove him from the speakership.
For the motion to be filed by Matt Gaetz, a Republican and for 8 Republicans to seal McCarthy’s fate shows that the GOP is divided.
McCarthy’s “crime” was that he had worked with Democrats to pass a short-term funding bill to avert shutdown.
Whether the McCarthy’s removal led by Gaetz was entirely personal or not, it does not shroud the widening rift between the GOP lawmakers.
The Republican party was once revered for its ability to unite and win but there have been a lot of infighting lately. Trump asked the all important question on his Truth Social platform, “Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves?”
All of the past three Republican Speakers; John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan have been hounded by their own side.
“All three of them were chased out,” Democrat Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, a day after McCarthy was ousted.
“Speaker Boehner, Speaker Ryan and now Speaker McCarthy have all learned the same lesson: you cannot allow the hard right to run the House, or the country.”Chuck Schumer
Before the vote to remove McCarthy took place, Republicans engaged in heated debates on the House floor, with some defending the former Speaker and others criticizing him.
As at that time, McCarthy had destroyed any hope of being rescued by Democrats by announcing an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and blaming them for trying to shut down the government.
The removal puts the Congress in a state of inertia until a Speaker is elected.
Without a Speaker, the House is unable to push through bills, including vital spending bills.
Meanwhile, there are important issues the House needs to address in the coming weeks; agreeing an annual budget to avoid a shutdown, deciding on aid to Ukraine and how to proceed with the impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden.
Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer tweeted, “I’m disappointed some members just voted to paralyze the House.”
“They’ve put politics and personal grudges over the integrity of the chamber and the good of our country. The border is open, gas prices are rising and government funding runs out in 43 days. We can’t afford to play these games.”Lori Chavez-DeRemer
Texas Republican Congressman, Mike McCaul, Chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, urged his own party in the House to unify because “we have got to move quickly, we cannot paralyze democracy, especially when we have hotspots all over the world.”
“What kind of message are we sending to our adversaries when we cannot govern, when we are dysfunctional, when we don’t even have a Speaker of the House?Mike McCaul,
Who Will Be A Better Speaker?
Gaetz told reporters after the vote that “it’s the benefit of this country that we have a better Speaker of the House than Kevin McCarthy.”
The frontrunners for the speaership are Ohio Congressman, Jim Jordan and Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Former U.S President, Donald Trump has officially endorsed Ohio Congressman, Jim Jordan.
Steve Scalise currently has blood cancer and that could influence lawmakers’ decision to vote for him or not. It can also affect his performance if he is elected as House Speaker.
As partial government shutdown looms again, with a November 17 deadline to provide more money, the House has to make a choice to bring back order and restore confidence.
Polls suggest that confidence in government has been falling among Americans for some time.
Delay in electing a new Speaker will further deplete the people’s confidence and add to a sense that the U.S political system is not working.
Nonetheless, whoever wins will have to contend with the same ultraconservatives.