In a historic turn of events, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted as speaker of the House of Representatives. This marked the first time in history that a speaker had been voted out of the chamber. The vote, which took place on October 3, resulted in a tally of 216 to 210, with eight Republicans voting in favor of McCarthy's removal. California Republican Kevin McCarthy became the first ever speaker of the US House of Representatives to be ejected from his position in a 216 to 210 vote, with Democrats joining with far-right Republicans to remove him from office.
The decision to remove McCarthy from his position as speaker was not unexpected. There had been considerable tension between him and the Democrats, and it was clear that the Democratic leadership would not reach a substantive deal to preserve McCarthy's position. McCarthy had made a series of spending deals with Democrats, which had already caused discontent within his own party. Any further agreements with Democrats would have only further damaged his reputation among the far-right faction of the party.
The House Democratic caucus, while marginally smaller, stood firm against any deal that would have saved McCarthy's chair. McCarthy had a history of badgering and baiting the Democrats, even blaming them for near government shutdowns. This, along with his approval of House impeachment probes targeting President Biden, had already soured his relationship with the Democrats.
The ousting of McCarthy was instigated by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who had long expressed disdain towards McCarthy. Gaetz had threatened to remove McCarthy from his position if he relied on Democratic votes to pass legislation. After McCarthy passed a stopgap measure with Democratic support, Gaetz followed through on his threat and initiated a motion to vacate the chair, ultimately leading to McCarthy's removal.
Following McCarthy's removal, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) was appointed as acting Speaker of the House. McHenry, as Speaker pro tempore, will preside over the vote and selection of the House's next speaker.
The removal of McCarthy has caused division within the Republican party, with some Republicans furious with Gaetz for instigating the motion to vacate the chair. There have been calls for Gaetz's expulsion from the GOP caucus, as well as the possibility of his expulsion from Congress altogether.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries urged House Democrats to vote against McCarthy, citing a list of grievances against him. McCarthy's refusal to offer concessions to the Democrats left them united against him, resulting in his removal.
The chaos within the Republican party has the potential to discredit the GOP as a party of incompetence and ideological extremism. However, the turmoil in the House presents challenges for Democrats as well. They missed an opportunity to endorse bipartisanship over political gamesmanship.
The fate of House GOP leadership has thrown Congress into chaos, with the future of the House uncertain. The focus is now on the dysfunction within the Republican party and the impact it will have on governing. The turmoil within the House presents both opportunities and challenges for Democrats as they navigate the political landscape.
0. “Who voted McCarthy out? These House Republicans voted with Matt Gaetz” The Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/10/04/republicans-voted-against-mccarthy-oust
1. “Democrat failure to save US speaker hands power to Republican right” The Conversation, 4 Oct. 2023, https://theconversation.com/democrat-failure-to-save-us-speaker-hands-power-to-republican-right-214969
2. “Texas Republicans stuck with Kevin McCarthy, but it wasn't enough to save him” The Texas Tribune, 3 Oct. 2023, https://www.texastribune.org/2023/10/03/texas-republicans-kevin-mccarthy-speaker-vote/
3. “Kevin McCarthy Is History” The Nation, 3 Oct. 2023, https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/kevin-mccarthy-gaetz
4. “Gaetz's speeches against McCarthy hand Democrats fresh campaign material” Axios, 4 Oct. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/10/04/matt-gaetz-kevin-mccarthy-ouster-house-floor-speeches
5. “Why House Democrats Refused to Save McCarthy” TIME, 3 Oct. 2023, https://time.com/6320202/house-democrats-refused-save-kevin-mccarthy/
6. “Who is Rep. Patrick McHenry and why is he the interim House speaker?” NPR, 4 Oct. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/10/04/1203625399/patrick-mchenry-interim-speaker-kevin-mccarthy-house