In a historic move of events, dissident Republicans in the U.S. House voted with Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker. This came just nine months after he secured the gavel following negotiations with the GOP’s right flank and 15 rounds of voting.
The 216-210 vote on a motion to vacate marked the first time in history that a speaker has been removed by the House. North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry was named speaker pro tem until the election of a new speaker.
The vote followed months of growing dissent among a small group of House Republicans. Republican Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Eli Crane of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, and Matt Rosendale of Montana voted to remove McCarthy.
They also voted against tabling the motion, which would have stopped the process from moving forward. The dissenting Republicans had publicly rebuked McCarthy for not holding to a private deal he struck with them in January to secure the speakership. They criticized McCarthy for striking an agreement with President Joe Biden in May to avoid a default on the nation’s debt and for relying on Democratic votes to pass a short-term government spending bill.
McCarthy, however, stood by his decisions and said that if he had to lose his job over it, he would continue to fight. He believed his support for passing a bipartisan stop gap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown was the right decision.
The group of Republican dissenters represents a small fraction of the House Republican Conference, many of whom backed McCarthy on the floor and defended his record. They argued that McCarthy did the right thing by preventing a government shutdown and buying more time for the appropriations process.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries announced that House Democrats would vote to vacate the chair, citing the unwillingness of Republicans to break from MAGA extremism.
Democrats cheered behind closed doors, saying McCarthy hadn’t built trust and had catered to an extreme element within his own caucus.
The dispute over spending levels and McCarthy’s decision to work with Democrats on issues like the debt ceiling and funding for Ukraine have been ongoing. McCarthy’s path to the speakership in January was a difficult one, with far-right conservatives blocking him for four days before he secured the position.
The ousting of McCarthy as speaker marks a significant shift in the dynamics of the House. How the House will proceed in the coming days remains to be seen, as this is uncharted territory. The election of a new speaker will be watched as it will shape the direction of the House and its legislative agenda.