Home PoliticsAfrica News House Speaker Kevin McCarthy ousted from leadership role in historic vote. Here’s what to know.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy ousted from leadership role in historic vote. Here’s what to know.

Enough Republicans joined Matt Gaetz’s effort in a pair of floor votes.

Rep. ’s efforts to oust Speaker of the House

were successful Tuesday as the GOP civil war continues to rage in Congress. It was the first time in U.S. history that a House speaker was voted out of the position.

Gaetz, the outspoken Florida Republican who’s dealt with a barrage of scandals since being elected in 2016, has been a consistent antagonist of McCarthy. On Monday night, Gaetz announced he would be filing a “motion to vacate” that, if successful, would remove McCarthy from his post.

McCarthy and his allies could have handled Gaetz’s motion in a few ways, but they chose to hold a vote to “table” it on Tuesday afternoon. If it had been successful, it would have killed Gaetz’s motion and allowed McCarthy to retain his speakership. It failed, with 11 Republicans defecting.

Later that afternoon a final vote passed, ending McCarthy’s speakership. Eight Republicans joined with 208 Democrats in support of the measure. To close out the proceedings, Rep.of Arkansas, who was presiding over the House, said, “The office of Speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant.”

Gaetz defended his actions in a speech prior to the final vote, saying, “Chaos is Speaker McCarthy. Chaos is somebody who we cannot trust with their word.”

McCarthy could run again for the now vacant speakership, something his allies have suggested is likely.

Gaetz’s case against McCarthy

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Gaetz’s move came after McCarthy agreed over the weekend to support a funding bill that averted a government shutdown. On Monday, Gaetz also accused him of cutting a “secret deal” with Democrats to fund Ukraine’s military in its fight with Russia. Gaetz and other hard-liners object to such funding.

The Florida congressman has also accused McCarthy of spinelessness, saying the speaker loses his “lunch money in every negotiation” with the White House.

McCarthy, meanwhile, has insisted that Gaetz’s issue with him is “personal” and has little to do with politics or policy. Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, McCarthy attempted to project confidence, citing the other challenges he had overcome during his rocky leadership tenure and posting “Bring it on” to social media.

McCarthy could have negotiated with Democrats for their support in order to guarantee that he kept the position, but he did not, telling CNBC Tuesday morning that Democrats will “decide whatever they’re going to do. And we will live with whatever happens.” Gaetz, however, reached out to Democrats to try and ensure their votes against McCarthy.

After a lengthy Democratic caucus meeting on Tuesday morning, the party’s leadership said it would not be voting to step in to help McCarthy and centrist Democrats abandoned him as well. There was little love for him among the minority party, following his launch of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden without a floor vote and his defense of former President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

What comes next

Following plans put in place in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks to ensure the continuance of governance, McCarthy had prepared a “speaker-in-waiting” list from which an interim replacement would be chosen. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a McCarthy ally, was selected for the role.

There are disagreements on how much power McHenry will actually have, however, with some procedural experts saying that a replacement would only have the power to oversee the selection of a new speaker. The position doesn’t have to be held by a sitting member of Congress.

McCarthy struggled to corral his Republican colleagues since the onset of his speakership. It took a historic 15 votes over five days to install him in the position.


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