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3 Oct, 2023 20:55

US House Speaker McCarthy ousted

The Republican is the first holder of the office to be voted out by his peers in the institution’s 234-year history
US House Speaker McCarthy ousted

The US House of Representatives voted 216 to 210 on Tuesday to oust California Republican Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker. Throughout his short tenure, McCarthy has faced persistent opposition from the right for compromising with Democrats on government funding and aid to Ukraine.

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz introduced a motion to oust McCarthy on Monday, two days after McCarthy rallied GOP lawmakers to pass a bill funding the US government until November 17. Gaetz and a cohort of hardline conservatives opposed any attempt to combine funding for different government agencies into a single bill, with Gaetz warning that he would move to oust McCarthy if the bill passed.

Gaetz was able to launch the removal of McCarthy thanks to a compromise reached between the California Republican and Gaetz’s ‘Freedom Caucus’ allies in January, in which the hardliners agreed to back his bid for speakership in exchange for the ability to remove him from office if they lost confidence in his leadership.

Gaetz denounced McCarthy as “a feature of the swamp” shortly after the vote. “It’s the benefit of this country that we have a better speaker of the House than Kevin McCarthy,” he told reporters.

Even though McCarthy dropped military aid for the Ukrainian army from the funding bill, Gaetz still accused the now ex-speaker of cutting “a secret side-deal” with President Joe Biden, claiming on Monday that McCarthy had shared details of the apparent deal with Republican lawmakers.

By agreeing to pass a last-minute 45-day stopgap spending bill on Saturday night, the Republicans averted a looming government shutdown. “I kept [the] government open so the families of our troops and border agents could get paid,” McCarthy said, defending his record. “If a handful of Republicans side with Democrats to remove me for that it's – a fight worth having.”

Patrick McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina, was declared acting speaker until the election of McCarthy’s replacement.

McCarthy was elected speaker on the 15th ballot in January despite attempts by hardline Republicans, including Gaetz and Representative Lauren Boebert, to block him. McCarthy’s 269 days as House speaker is the second-shortest tenure in US history after Michael C. Kerr, who served as speaker for 257 days and died in office in 1876.