WASHINGTON– A confrontation Tuesday with a splinter faction of his own party saw House Speaker Kevin McCarthy removed as House leader — a historic development that foreshadows the chaos to come at the Capitol.
The final vote was 216-210 in favor of Rep. Matt Gaetz’s motion to overturn.
Extremist Republican Gaetz of Florida led the charge against McCarthy, a fellow conservative. Gaetz made a so-called motion to resign Monday night after criticizing McCarthy’s handling of spending and budget fights since Republicans regained majority control of the chamber and asserting that he could not be trusted McCarthy.
McCarthy has defended his record, including recently avoiding a partial shutdown of the federal government with the support of Democrats – calling himself “the adult in the room.” But this view did not convince eight other members of the Republican Party who, alongside the Democratic minority, voted in favor of impeaching the president for the first time in history.
A pro tempore interim president was quickly appointed, but an internal election must take place for his permanent replacement. Until then, the half of Congress, which approves major funding laws and other bills, has veered into uncharted territory.
Eight Republicans voted to remove McCarthy’s gavel.
In addition to Gaetz, who made the motion to overturn, the following Republicans voted to oust McCarthy: Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Eli Crane of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Matt Rosendale of Arizona.
All Democrats present also supported the motion to overturn.
In a closed-door meeting Tuesday evening, McCarthy told fellow Republicans that he would not run for president again, according to multiple sources in the room.
He also said that when they next vote for another speaker, Republicans should try to elect that person on the first ballot — and if he has to make a sacrifice, so be it. McCarthy thanked those who supported him.
On the way to the party meeting, McCarthy told ABC News’ John Parkinson: “Life goes on. You never give up.”
‘My fear is that the institution has fallen today,’ McCarthy says after being ousted
Current Speaker McCarthy also spoke to reporters at the Capitol Tuesday evening, where he looked back on his years leading the Republican Party, touted his record — and struck an optimistic if ambiguous note about his future.
“I believe I can continue to fight,” McCarthy said, while emphasizing that he will not run for president after losing a historic vote on the nullification motion earlier in the day.
“My goals have not changed. My ability to fight is just in a different form,” he said, later adding: “I will never abandon the American people. That doesn’t mean I must be an orator.”
McCarthy also criticized the conservative rebels who ousted him from his role – pointing out that they made up only 4% of the GOP conference – and claimed that Gaetz was acting out of personal resentment in expelling him, which Gaetz denies.
Despite the defeat he suffered within his own party, McCarthy seemed largely optimistic about his political career.
He argued that the Democratic minority that decided to vote against him made a “political decision” that undermined the House’s ability to govern.
“My fear is that the institution has fallen today,” he said.
Yet in his farewell remarks, he highlighted efforts to cut government spending, broaden his party’s base and increase its majority in Congress, including by electing more women and minorities.
“I feel fortunate to have served the American people,” he insisted. “I leave the presidency with a sense of pride, accomplishment and, yes, optimism.”
Gaetz also spoke to reporters outside the Capitol just moments after his successful evacuation motion.
“The stages of grieving are ongoing,” he said.
The Florida Republican tossed out names for who could become the next speaker. On his list were House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern.
Gaetz said he would “absolutely not” run for president.
Republicans eye next week’s presidential election as Scalise appears to emerge as early front-runner
The House canceled votes for the rest of the week, according to Majority Whip Tom Emmer.
Republican sources say Speaker pro tempore Patrick McHenry told party members at a Tuesday night conference that the House should recess until Oct. 10 — and that the plan is to hold a House candidate forum. presidency that day, then vote for a permanent position. speaker on October 11.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise appears to emerge from the closed-door conference as the favorite to replace McCarthy.
Elise Stefanik, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, and Emmer have indicated they are not running for president.
It’s unclear whether Scalise has enough support to succeed, but he spoke to reporters as he returned to his office.
“We have a lot of work to do, but I haven’t made any official announcements,” said Scalise, R-La.
“Obviously within our conference we have a very tight majority,” he acknowledged. “Getting things done is going to be difficult in a tight majority. It always will be, so no matter who the next speaker is, the challenges remain, but I think the opportunity is there to continue to move forward.”
Asked if he was physically fit to take on his speaking role as he continues treatment for blood cancer, Scalise responded, “I feel good.”
Pelosi Ordered to Leave Capitol Hill, President McHenry’s First Act
In one of Rep. Patrick McHenry’s first acts as president pro tempore, he ordered Nancy Pelosi to immediately vacate her hidden office at the Capitol by Wednesday, sources told ABC News. The move was first reported by Politico.
Most lawmakers have offices in the buildings surrounding the Capitol, not in the Capitol itself.
Hideaway offices are private, unmarked spaces in the Capitol, typically reserved for members of House leadership. But as a former speaker, Pelosi was allowed to keep one.
Pelosi was informed of the news while she was in San Francisco attending a memorial service for the late Dianne Feinstein.
In a statement to ABC News, Speaker Emerita Pelosi criticized the decision: “With all the important decisions the new Republican leadership must make, and which we all eagerly await, one of the first actions taken by the new acting president was to order me to leave my office at the Capitol immediately. Unfortunately, because I am in California to mourn the loss and pay tribute to my dear friend Dianne Feinstein, I am unable to collect my belongings at this time.
Pelosi continued: “This expulsion constitutes a radical break with tradition. As Speaker, I gave former Speaker Hastert a much larger set of offices for as long as he wanted.”
ABC’s Adam Carlson and Lalee Ibssa contributed to this report.