U.S. “Speaker” Kevin McCarthy, in Washington, Oct. 2, 2023 (Getty Images North America/Chip Somodevilla)
For the first time in the history of the US Congress: House of Representatives Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy was removed from his post on Tuesday, plagued by fraternal infighting within his party.
After a tense debate among conservatives in the chamber, 216 elected officials voted to oust him, including eight Republicans, 210 against.
After the unprecedented decision, a smiling Kevin McCarthy was surrounded by his party members, who hugged and shook his hand.
The vote opens a period of intense turmoil in the lower house, where a replacement must be chosen next week.
Kevin McCarthy already announced Tuesday evening that he would not run again, even though parliamentary rules allow him to do so.
“I was the 55th Speaker of the House and it was one of the greatest honors. I loved every moment of it,” he told a news conference, calling himself an “optimist” despite the defeat.
He had already been elected by forceps in January, as the Republicans had a majority.
To achieve the perch, he notably had to make enormous concessions with about two dozen Trumpists, including any elected official who would have the power to call for a vote to impeach him, which Matt Gates eventually did.
– “Contradictory Promises” –
“It’s in the best interest of this country that we have a better speaker than Kevin McCarthy,” an elected official of the US hard-right filed a motion to impeach his party’s leader on Monday after voting.
“No one believed (him),” said Mr. Gates said. “Kevin McCarthy has made many contradictory promises.”
The elected official from Florida criticized the Republican administration for negotiating a temporary budget with elected Democrats to fund the federal administration, which many conservatives opposed. He also accused him of making a “secret deal” with President Joe Biden on a potential package for Ukraine.
However, the Republican right-wing strongly opposes releasing additional funds to Kyiv, believing the money should be used to combat the migration crisis along the US-Mexico border.
It didn’t matter if a majority of Kevin McCarthy’s caucus publicly supported it: Trumpists had a de facto veto in the chamber, giving it a very thin Republican majority.
– no democratic support –
“I don’t regret negotiating. Our government is built to find compromises,” replied Kevin McCarthy.
Representative-elect Matt Gates of Florida speaks in Washington on October 2, 2023 (AFP / SAUL LOEB)
For a while, the 58-year-old Republicans thought he could save his head, hoping that political calculations would prevail and he could win support from Democrats and more reasonable people in exchange for concessions.
A futile effort.
“It is the responsibility of the Republican Party to end the Republican civil war in the House,” Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a letter Tuesday after a lengthy meeting with his congressional committee.
“There are countless reasons to let Republicans manage their own problems. Let them wallow in the mud of their own incompetence and inability to govern,” said progressive elected official Pramila Jayapal.
In a sign of the divisions that are tearing Republicans apart, conservative elected officials took turns in the chamber to argue for and against Kevin McCarthy. Mr. Tom Cole warned that if McCarthy were impeached, the House and Republicans would be plunged into “chaos.”
“Confound President McCarthy,” Matt Gates replied.
– Internal Struggles –
Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives, in Washington on September 30, 2023 (AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)
The revelation of these internal struggles in broad daylight prompted Donald Trump to react.
“Why do Republicans spend their time arguing among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the far-left Democrats who are destroying our country”? The former Republican Party president wrote on his Truth Community site.
Such a vote had not been held in the United States in more than a century, and no speaker had been voted out of office until Tuesday.
President Joe Biden called on House elected representatives in the evening to quickly elect a new leader in the face of “urgent challenges” facing the United States.
But the task promises to be complicated for Republicans, who meet in a week next Tuesday to agree on a new nominee. Voting is expected to take place the day after tomorrow.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”