A group of rogue Republicans supporting former President Donald Trump has ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his position. The unprecedented action comes after McCarthy’s controversial deal-making with Democrats to avert a government shutdown.
McCarthy, who had steadfastly resisted reaching out to Democrats, was on the losing end of a high-stakes political battle. The California representative’s efforts to broker the deal to keep the government working led to his downfall, as members of his party turned against him.McCarthy’s ouster marks the first successful vote to remove a speaker from the U.S. House of Representatives. The last and only time Congress voted on such a measure was over a century ago, in 1910.
Before the vote, McCarthy, who faced a protracted 15-round battle in January to secure the speakership, made it clear that he would not seek assistance from Democrats. Such a move could have potentially saved his position. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) expressed the concerns of many in his caucus, citing significant trust issues with the Republican leadership, including McCarthy.
“We dealt with a variety of different things, including coming into the session last month, and the first official act was to launch this illegitimate impeachment inquiry, presumably at the direction of the former twice-impeached insurrectionist-in-chief, Donald Trump,” Jeffries said. “These are all the challenges that I think we confront.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz of the Florida Republican Party, a well-known representative of the Republican caucus’ adamantly pro-Trump faction, proposed the motion to remove McCarthy. Gaetz, currently under investigation for alleged sexual abuse, criticized McCarthy for what he deemed a lackluster performance in negotiations with President Joe Biden, asserting that Biden had “handed McCarthy his lunch” in recent talks to prevent a federal shutdown.
A recent report has suggested that many Republicans were considering a vote to oust Gaetz from the chamber, further highlighting the internal divisions within the party.
Despite losing his position, McCarthy remained resolute, emphasizing his commitment to keeping the government operational. “I made a decision to take a risk to keep the government open,” McCarthy told reporters. “If, at the end of the day, I am removed from the speaker because I moved to ensure that the troops and Border Patrol agents continued to receive pay, that’s a fight worth fighting for. I’ve always said I would fight for the American public,” he added, “and that’s exactly what I did, and I’ll continue to do that and let the chips fall where they may.”