J. Scott Applewhite/AP
The House voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker, marking the first time in history that a House Speaker has been removed in this manner.
The final vote was 216-210 in favor of a motion to “vacate the chair.” Eight Republicans, led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, joined all Democrats present in voting against McCarthy.
McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol that he would not run for president again.
“I leave the presidency with a sense of pride, accomplishment and, yes, optimism,” he said. “I will no longer stand as speaker. I will ask the conference to choose someone else.”
McCarthy said he did not regret the disagreements with members of his own party that led to his demise.
“I don’t regret negotiating,” McCarthy said. “Our government is designed to find compromise.”
Congress has now entered uncharted territory: The House will be forced to vote for a new president, although McCarthy defectors have not named any alternative candidates. It’s unclear whether another Republican can win enough votes to take the gavel.
The vote marks the end of a difficult presidency for McCarthy. It took him 15 rounds of voting to obtain this position in January. And in recent weeks, hardliners within his party have blocked his efforts to pass a temporary spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, was named chairman pro tempore, or acting chairman, until a new leader is elected.
Republicans plan a new president
Majority Whip Tom Emmer indicated he would not run for president when asked if he would consider it Tuesday night. “(House Majority Leader) Steve Scalise has been a good friend for a long time and would be a great speaker,” he said.
Scalise, R-La., is undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He recently said his treatments so far have been successful. Scalise told reporters at the Capitol that he had no announcements to make at this time.
Members told reporters they plan to hold a candidates’ forum next Tuesday before a vote on choosing a speaker, possibly as early as Wednesday.
Republicans divided into factions
Gaetz, who never supported McCarthy’s candidacy in January, cited McCarthy’s decision to pass a short-term spending bill with Democratic support as evidence that he did not “stand by his promises” to the conservatives.
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After Tuesday’s vote, Gaetz told reporters the move “represents a Band-Aid scam, and it’s what we need to do to get back on track.”
McCarthy was defiant but resigned to the vote after a lengthy meeting of House Republicans earlier in the day.
“If you exclude a speaker who got 99 percent in his lecture, who kept the government open and paid the troops, I think we’re in a very bad situation,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday morning.
Democrats refuse to save McCarthy
Before the vote, there was speculation that Democrats might intervene to save McCarthy’s presidency by voting “present” rather than in favor of the resignation motion. But McCarthy said he was unwilling to offer concessions to Democrats to help him stay in power.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said it would be up to Republicans to “break with the extremists.”
House Democrats will continue to put people before politics.
We are ready to find bipartisan common ground.
Our extremist colleagues have shown no desire to do the same.
They must find a way to end the Republican civil war in the House of Representatives.
– Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) October 3, 2023
“We are ready, willing and able to work together with our Republican colleagues, but it is up to them to join with us to move Congress and the country forward,” Jeffries told reporters at the Capitol.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
His comments followed a lengthy “open mic” meeting of House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol complex on Tuesday. One by one, lawmakers stood up and had a minute to give their opinions on what they thought the caucus should do, and one by one, Democrats denounced President McCarthy’s record and his reluctance to mobilize across the aisle.
“I think Kevin McCarthy is one of the most unprincipled and untrustworthy people I have ever met in my entire life, and I think he is damaging this institution and our democracy,” Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a moderate Democrat, told reporters. .
Several Democrats told NPR that neither the president nor his allies have approached Democratic leaders with any proposal to support him.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., said McCarthy’s decision to change the rules on who can propose a resolution to impeach the president, allowing only one member to do so — a concession made for McCarthy to gain the presidency in first place – “essentially puts the margin in charge of the House of Representatives in terms of rule-making.”
Neal said he had a “Machiavellian stance” about the move in January: “Once you make the deal, you have to deal with the consequences. »
After the vote, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Biden looked forward to working with both parties in Congress and said he hoped the House would elect a president soon. “Because the urgent challenges facing our nation will not wait, he is hopeful that the House will quickly elect a president,” she said in a statement.