Kevin McCarthy removed as US House Speaker in historic vote

A leader of the US House had never been removed in American history

What happens now that US House speaker Kevin McCarthy has been removed?

What happens now that US House speaker Kevin McCarthy has been removed?
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Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday was removed from his job as speaker of the US House of Representatives after a mutiny by hard-right members of his own Republican Party, the first time in American history such an action has been taken.

Mr McCarthy's removal came in a 216-210 vote. Democrats voted to remove him as a bloc and they were joined by several Republicans.

The procedural "motion to vacate" vote was last brought to the House of Representatives in 1910, but the speaker was not removed at the time.

Mr McCarthy has served less than one year in the job, managing challenges from hardline Republicans amid a narrow party majority control of the chamber after last year's midterm elections.

A vote for a new speaker is expected next week. Mr McCarthy said he will not run for the position again, adding "it was an honour to serve".

Congressman Patrick McHenry of North Carolina was appointed temporary speaker of the House. Republicans gathered behind closed doors into the evening to discuss potential next steps.

Mr McCarthy was brought down by a handful of far-right Republicans who accused him of working too closely with President Joe Biden and the Democrats.

"My fear is the institution fell today," he told media, blaming those who voted to remove him.

Matt Gaetz, a leading member of the group known as the Freedom Caucus, introduced the motion to force a vote on Mr McCarthy's removal in protest against the passage of a last-minute spending bill that averted a government shutdown.

The caucus also opposes sending more support to Ukraine, saying the money would be better spent in the US battling illegal immigration.

The caucus was furious the bill did not do enough to curb government spending.

After Mr McCarthy's removal, Mr Gaetz called him "a creature of the swamp".

"He has risen to power by collecting special interest money and redistributing that money in exchange for favours … We are breaking the fever and we should elect a speaker who is better."

The Republicans controls the House by a 221-212 majority .

Two of the seven dissenting Republican members of Congress sit on the powerful House foreign affairs Committee – Tim Burchett and Ken Buck.

Joe Wilson, chairman of the Middle East subcommittee, had remained staunchly behind Mr McCarthy.

"From the bottom of my heart, no," Mr Wilson said when casting his vote.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said before the vote that Democratic leadership would vote to remove the Speaker.

"It is now the responsibility of the GOP (Republican) members to end the House Republican civil war," Mr Jeffries wrote.

He said that given the House Republicans' unwillingness to break away from former president Donald Trump's grip, "House Democratic leadership will vote yes on the pending motion to vacate the chair".

“It's a sad day,” Republican Representative Tom Cole said during the House debate, urging his colleagues not to plunge the House Republican majority "into chaos."

But Mr Gaetz shot back: "Chaos is Speaker McCarthy."

The Representative has been a leader of anti-McCarthy sentiment since the start of his tenure as Speaker.

At the start of this year's congressional session, Mr McCarthy only narrowly solidified support after 15 ballots, the most since the American Civil War.

To gain that majority, Mr McCarthy eventually gave in to most of the procedural and policy demands of the Trump-affiliated Freedom Caucus.

One measure he agreed to was allowing any individual member of Congress to call a no-confidence vote, a concession that ultimately came back to haunt him, costing him his gavel.

Freedom Caucus members generally hail from “safe red” – or solidly Republican – states, giving them the political space to vote against large bipartisan deals.

Almost all of the returning members voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, even after the deadly pro-Trump January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.

Analysis from the Washington-based Brookings Institution said Mr McCarthy's concessions to this group has made, and will continue to make, his speakership harder.

“Needing their votes to become Speaker, McCarthy does not appear to have demanded anything from the Freedom Caucus in return for sharing the procedural reins,” Brookings wrote in January.

“Freedom Caucus members have typically lobbed bombs from the sidelines and voted against Republicans when their amendments failed.”

Updated: October 04, 2023, 7:24 PM