By: Nadia Liu
The House of Representatives ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the speakership on Oct. 3 for the first time in United States history. Eight far-right Republicans joined a united caucus of Democrats in a 216-210 vote after Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz made the “motion to vacate.” The seven other Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy were Representatives 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 Montana. The House then appointed Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, an ally of McCarthy and a member of the Financial Services Committee, as speaker pro tempore until a new, permanent speaker is elected.
“The reason Kevin McCarthy went down today is because nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy,” Rep. Gaetz told reporters after the vote. The move came mere days after the former speaker decided to avoid a government shutdown by relying on Democratic votes to push through a stopgap spending bill over the objections of a far-right bloc. Minority Leader Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York instructed fellow Democrats to vote against McCarthy, citing Republicans’ “unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism.” Following the vote, Democratic Washington Representative Derek Kilmer posted to social media platform X, “Speaker McCarthy has repeatedly chosen to weaken the institution by bending to extremists rather than collaborating across the aisle. He has inherited the chaos he has sown.”
A closed-door secret-ballot contest among House Republicans on Oct. 11 narrowly nominated Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana for speaker, but he found himself struggling to secure the 217 votes needed for election on the House floor. In a 113-99 vote, Republicans named Scalise, their second-ranking leader, as McCarthy’s successor over Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a favorite of the hard-right with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Several Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, announced they would not back Scalise on the House floor without concessions, and many supporters of Jordan, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, refused to switch their allegiance. With no resolution to the GOP infighting that left the House paralyzed, Scalise announced that he would step aside: “If you look at where our conference is, there’s still work to be done. Our conference still has to come together, and it’s not there. There are still some people that have their own agendas.”
Following Scalise’s withdrawal, House Republicans nominated Jordan as speaker. However, it is still uncertain if he can secure the 217 votes necessary for election on the House floor, as 55 Representatives said no to a ballot asking whether GOP lawmakers would support the Ohio Republican if the speaker nomination went to the floor. While Trump’s endorsement and far-right support helped Jordan secure the nomination, many GOP lawmakers disagree with him on matters of policy regarding Ukraine and are reluctant to reward the conservative lawmakers who forced McCarthy from his post.
(Sources: AP News, NPR, NY Times)