House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was unseated from his leadership position following a historic vote, marking the first time a House speaker has been removed through a no-confidence motion.
The vote, which saw a final tally of 216-210, witnessed eight Republicans aligning with all Democrats to oust McCarthy. The catalyst for this dramatic move was a far-right revolt within the Republican Party, driven by concerns over McCarthy’s reliance on Democratic support to secure funding and avert a government shutdown.
Republican Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas, presiding over the chamber, formally declared, “The office of speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant.”
Subsequently, Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a staunch ally of McCarthy’s and a member of the Financial Services Committee, assumed the role of speaker pro tempore.
Rules of the 118th Congress
As per the rules of the 118th Congress, in the event of a vacancy in the office of speaker, the next member named on a list submitted by McCarthy to the clerk of the House in January steps in as speaker pro tempore until a new speaker is elected.
Following the vote, House Republicans convened as a conference to deliberate their future course of action. McCarthy conveyed to his colleagues that he would not seek re-election as speaker, acknowledging the loss of trust in his leadership.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a vocal critic of McCarthy, addressed reporters after the vote, stating, “The reason Kevin McCarthy went down today is because nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy has made multiple contradictory promises, and when they all came due, he lost votes of people who maybe don’t even ideologically agree with me on everything.”
Gaetz described the removal of McCarthy as a necessary step to realign the party. Joining Gaetz in voting to remove McCarthy were seven other Republican 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 turmoil leading up to McCarthy’s removal included accusations from Gaetz, made a day prior, suggesting that McCarthy had struck a “secret side deal” with President Biden regarding Ukraine aid in exchange for Democratic support on a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown. McCarthy vehemently denied such allegations, asserting that no deals had been made with Democrats.