Less than a year after his election, U.S House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy has been ousted by hard-right members of his own Republican party.
It marks the first time in U.S history that a speaker of the House of Representatives has been removed from office.
Other recent House Speakers, including former Republican leader, John Boehner, had previously been threatened with a motion to vacate but never had to endure a full effort to remove them.
McCarthy was expelled from his role in a 216-210 vote on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, evening.
Eight hard-right Republicans joined 208 Democrats in supporting McCarthy’s removal, as 210 Republicans tried and failed to keep the Speaker in his post.
McCarthy only needed a simple majority of voting members to secure his post.
Relations between McCarthy and his caucus have been rocky from the start.
It can be recalled that McCarthy only secured the speakership after 15 rounds of voting in the House, due to the opposition of a handful of right-wing legislators.
The vote to oust McCarthy followed a motion to vacate the chair from the Florida Republican Congressman, Matt Gaetz.
On Monday evening, Gaetz launched an effort to remove McCarthy, alleging that he had betrayed the party by working towards a compromise deal with Democrats to avoid a shutdown.
After McCarthy’s Republican allies failed to block the motion from moving forward, a final vote was held on Tuesday.
“Speaker McCarthy has failed to take a stand where it matters,” Gaetz said in a social media post before the vote. “So if he won’t, I will,” he added.
After the vote, Congressman Steve Womack, the Arkansas Republican who presided over the session, announced, “The resolution is adopted.”
“The office of speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant,” he added.
Following the declaration, Congressman Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, was designated by McCarthy as the acting Speaker until a new House leader is elected.
Upon taking the gavel, McHenry quickly called for a recess.
“In the opinion of the chair, prior to proceeding to the election of a Speaker, it will be prudent to first recess for the relative caucus and conferences to meet and discuss the path forward.”Patrick McHenry
McCarthy’s removal effectively halts business in the House of Representatives until the House, which has only a narrow Republican majority, elects a new Speaker. Without a speaker, the House is unable to push through bills, including vital spending bills.
White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre disclosed that President Joe Biden hoped the House would quickly select a new Speaker, saying that the “urgent challenges facing our nation will not wait.”
McCarthy Declares Decision To Not Run For Speaker Again
McCarthy established that he would not run for Speaker again.
Speaking to reporters, McCarthy said, “I leave the speakership with a sense of pride and accomplishment. And yes, optimism.”
“I made history, didn’t I?” he added.
Meanwhile some Republican leaders condemned McCarthy’s removal.
Former U.S Vice President and Republican Presidential candidate, Mike Pence said he was “deeply disappointed.”
“Let me say that chaos is never America’s friend. And it’s never a friend of American families that are struggling. And I’m deeply disappointed that a handful of Republicans would partner with the Democrats in the House of Representatives to oust the Speaker of the House.”Mike Pence
Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich labelled Gaetz as an “anti-Republican” and called him “actively destructive to the conservative movement.”
Gingrich urged Republicans to vote to expel Gaetz from the House Republican conference.
Speaking with a news agency, Adolfo Franco, a lawyer and Republican Party strategist, said the removal of McCarthy led by Gaetz was “entirely personal.”
“It is driven personally. It is a personal vendetta,” he asserted.
Franco stated that it was a “five-seat majority in a divided government” that removed McCarthy.
“The reality is we have a democratic President, we have a democratic Senate. We don’t have absolute majorities. Mr Gaetz is living in a fantasy world. So I feel terrible for a man who has accomplished so much for our country to be ousted.”Adolfo Franco