In a landmark event on Tuesday, Kevin McCarthy, who held the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives, was unseated through an unprecedented vote of no-confidence. This historic decision came about following a rebellion from the far-right faction within his party, who expressed dissatisfaction with his cooperation with Democrats to secure funding and prevent a government shutdown. McCarthy’s removal marked an unprecedented occurrence in U.S. history, as it marked the first instance of a Speaker of the House being removed from office, and this defeat came at the hands of his own Republican party, despite his relatively short tenure of less than a year in the role.
The conclusive tally of the vote stood at 216-210, with the noteworthy inclusion of eight Republicans aligning with the entirety of the Democratic bloc to cast their votes in favor of ousting McCarthy from his position.
“The office of speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant.” This statement was made by Republican Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas, who was overseeing the proceedings in the chamber.
Following Kevin McCarthy’s removal from the position of Speaker of the House, Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a prominent ally of McCarthy’s and a member of the Financial Services Committee, was designated as the speaker pro tempore. This appointment was made in accordance with the regulations of the 118th Congress, which stipulate that in the event of a vacancy in the speaker’s office, the next member listed on McCarthy’s submitted roster to the House clerk in January assumes the role of speaker pro tempore until a new speaker is elected.
In the wake of these developments, House Republicans convened on Tuesday night during a conference to deliberate on their future course of action. During this meeting, McCarthy informed his colleagues that he had decided against seeking re-election for the position of speaker.
In addition to Gaetz, seven Republican representatives cast their votes in favor of removing McCarthy from his position. These lawmakers were Andy Biggs from Arizona, Ken Buck from Colorado, Tim Burchett from Tennessee, Eli Crane from Arizona, Bob Good from Virginia, Nancy Mace from South Carolina, and Matt Rosendale from Montana.
A day prior to this vote, Gaetz had alleged that McCarthy had engaged in a covert agreement with President Joe Biden regarding Ukraine aid, which was purportedly done to secure the passage of a short-term funding bill just hours before a government shutdown was imminent. McCarthy, a California Republican, vehemently denied having entered into any such arrangement in exchange for Democratic support.