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Kevin McCarthy Removed as Speaker in Unprecedented House Vote, Throwing GOP into Disarray

by Andrew Wright
10 comments
House Leadership Chaos

In an unprecedented move in American political history, Speaker Kevin McCarthy was removed from his position on Tuesday through a House vote. This was triggered by a coalition of staunch conservatives, creating turmoil within the House and unsettling the Republican leadership.

Spearheaded by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a “motion to vacate” was initiated, which coalesced a faction of conservative Republican critics and a large number of Democrats, both of whom questioned McCarthy’s suitability for leadership.

The next steps remain nebulous as there is no readily apparent successor to assume leadership of the House Republican majority.

As the presiding officer adjourned the vote with a tally of 216-210, he announced the Speaker’s office “is now declared vacant.” Subsequently, Rep. Patrick McHenry, a leading McCarthy ally from North Carolina, took up the interim role of Speaker pro tempore as per House rules, pending the election of a new Speaker.

The House swiftly recessed for a caucus meeting to deliberate on the way forward.

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  • Imminent Government Shutdown Averted by Last-Minute Legislation
  • McCarthy’s Ongoing Tensions with Far-Right Faction Leads to Political Stalemate

The ousting of McCarthy came as a severe blow, prompted by accumulated grievances and further catalyzed by his recent decision to collaborate with Democrats to avert a federal government shutdown.

An initial vote resulted in a 218-208 tally against tabling the motion, with 11 Republicans allowing the motion to proceed. This led to an unparalleled floor debate ahead of subsequent voting.

The California representative was resolute in his refusal to negotiate with Democrats to retain his position, and even if he had sought their assistance, Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries had already declared an unwillingness to supply the necessary votes for McCarthy’s retention.

Jeffries proclaimed it was up to the GOP to resolve what he termed the “House Republican Civil War,” signaling that Democratic leadership would support the motion to remove McCarthy.

As the House chamber quieted, Gaetz, a prominent ally of former President Donald Trump, rose to present his motion. Gaetz has been a leader among hard-right Republicans who opposed McCarthy’s earlier efforts to assume the role of Speaker.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma cautioned his colleagues against plunging their majority “into chaos,” but Gaetz retorted during the debate, asserting, “Chaos is Speaker McCarthy.”

McCarthy’s future was enveloped in uncertainty as debates unfolded. Criticisms largely focused on his veracity and his capacity to honor the pledges he made when initially seeking the Speaker’s role.

Nevertheless, a considerable number of McCarthy’s supporters defended him, including Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a founding member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who asserted, “I think he has kept his word.”

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers convened privately before the watershed afternoon vote.

Behind closed doors, McCarthy urged his party members to proceed without hesitation. His sentiments echoed those of former Republican Speaker Joseph Cannon, who more than a century ago met his critics head-on.

According to anonymous sources within the GOP caucus meeting, McCarthy received three standing ovations and overwhelming hand-raised support from his peers.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers were unanimous in their mistrust for McCarthy, arguing that a reliable Speaker was necessary for effective governance.

The removal of McCarthy plunges the House Republicans into a state of disarray as they scramble to find a successor. Former President Donald Trump expressed his frustration about the internal GOP strife on social media, questioning why Republicans seemed perpetually embroiled in internal disputes.

Republicans had previously expressed their discontent when McCarthy leaned on Democratic support to pass a short-term government funding measure, while Democrats also criticized him for reneging on a debt agreement he had made earlier with President Biden.


Contributions to this report were made by Big Big News writers Kevin Freking, Stephen Groves, and Mary Clare Jalonick.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Kevin McCarthy Ousted as Speaker

What led to the removal of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House?

Kevin McCarthy was removed from his position as Speaker through a House vote initiated by a coalition of staunch conservatives and Democrats who questioned his suitability for leadership. The move was spearheaded by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who initiated a “motion to vacate” the Speaker’s office.

Who assumed the role of Speaker pro tempore after McCarthy was voted out?

Rep. Patrick McHenry, a leading ally of McCarthy from North Carolina, assumed the role of Speaker pro tempore as per House rules. He will serve in this capacity until a new Speaker is elected.

What was the final vote tally that led to McCarthy’s removal?

The final vote tally was 216-210 in favor of removing McCarthy from the position of Speaker. The presiding officer declared the Speaker’s office “now vacant” following the vote.

What role did Democrats play in the vote to remove McCarthy?

Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries had declared an unwillingness to provide the votes needed to save McCarthy. The Democratic leadership supported the motion to remove McCarthy, signaling it was the GOP’s responsibility to resolve their internal conflicts.

Was there any prior instance in U.S. history of a Speaker being removed through a House vote?

No, the removal of Kevin McCarthy marks the first instance in U.S. history where a Speaker was ousted through a House vote, making it an unprecedented event in American politics.

How did former President Donald Trump react to the situation?

Former President Donald Trump expressed his frustration about the internal strife within the GOP on social media, questioning why Republicans are perpetually embroiled in internal disputes.

What are the next steps for the House Republicans?

The next steps remain uncertain as there is no readily apparent successor to assume leadership of the House Republican majority. The removal of McCarthy has thrown the House Republicans into a state of disarray as they scramble to find a new leader.

What were some of the key grievances against McCarthy?

Criticisms against McCarthy largely focused on his veracity and his capacity to honor pledges he had made when initially seeking the Speaker’s role. Additionally, he faced scrutiny for collaborating with Democrats to avert a government shutdown, which irked some members within his party.

What happens now that the Speaker’s office is declared vacant?

The House will need to conduct another vote to elect a new Speaker. Until that time, the role of Speaker pro tempore, currently held by Rep. Patrick McHenry, will serve as an interim leadership position.

Were there any previous attempts to remove a Speaker?

More than a century ago, Republican Speaker Joseph Cannon faced an ouster attempt but survived by meeting his critics head-on. A more recent threat in 2015 did not proceed to a vote. This makes McCarthy’s removal a unique event in the annals of American political history.

More about Kevin McCarthy Ousted as Speaker

  • Kevin McCarthy’s Political Profile
  • History of U.S. House Speakers
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz’s Initiatives
  • The Role of Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Previous Attempts to Oust U.S. House Speakers
  • Hakeem Jeffries’ Letter and Stance on McCarthy’s Leadership
  • Overview of House Republican Civil War
  • Former President Donald Trump’s Reaction to McCarthy’s Ousting
  • Democratic Opposition to McCarthy’s Leadership
  • Government Shutdowns and Political Stakes

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10 comments

PoliticalJunkie October 3, 2023 - 10:26 pm

Matt Gaetz forcing the vote? The man knows how to make headlines, gotta give him that.

Reply
JennyHills October 4, 2023 - 3:18 am

Well, it’s about time someone held politicians accountable. McCarthy was never fit to lead, imho.

Reply
Alex_21 October 4, 2023 - 6:16 am

can’t believe this happened, it’s chaos in there. Who’s next in line, any guesses?

Reply
Sandra_R October 4, 2023 - 7:33 am

McCarthy ousted? Never saw that comin but then again, politics is unpredictable. What’s the GOP gonna do now?

Reply
TomElden October 4, 2023 - 7:46 am

So Dems and Reps agree on something for once? McCarthy had to go. But what now?

Reply
SteveRocks October 4, 2023 - 9:15 am

McCarthy says he wouldn’t make a deal with Dems but he already lost their trust, so whats the point. This whole things a circus.

Reply
LisaT October 4, 2023 - 11:49 am

Dems played it smart, let the Republicans sort out their own mess. It’s high time they got their act together.

Reply
MikeJohnson October 4, 2023 - 11:51 am

Wow, never thought I’d see the day McCarthy got voted out. This is historic, folks. like actually historic!

Reply
Rob_Carter October 4, 2023 - 11:54 am

Gaetz leading the charge? That’s interesting. makes you wonder what his endgame is, right?

Reply
Finance_Guru October 4, 2023 - 8:29 pm

This is gonna have repercussions not just in politics but also in the financial market. hold onto your seats!

Reply

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