The U.S. House of Representatives removed Rep. Kevin McCarthy from his post on Tuesday, as 216 members of his chamber voted in favor of ousting him while 210 supported him.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida led the challenge against his fellow Republican, filing what’s known as a “motion to vacate” late Monday, after McCarthy relied on House Democrats to pass a short-term measure that averted a partial government shutdown.
“I don’t think voting against Kevin McCarthy is chaos,” Gaetz said in a speech Tuesday on the House floor. “I think $33 trillion in debt is chaos. I think that facing a $2.2 trillion annual deficit is chaos. I think that not passing single-subject spending bills is chaos.”
GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina is now serving as the speaker pro tempore, or temporary speaker.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday evening, McCarthy said he won’t run for speaker again, and said he was “fortunate to have served…I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Gaetz had said on Sunday that he expected Democrats were “going to bail out” McCarthy, meaning supported him enough to offset the opposition from Gaetz and some other Republicans, but the vote didn’t play out that way.
Eight Republicans joined with all Democrats to vote against McCarthy. The eight were Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Eli Crane of Arizona, Gaetz, Bob Good of Virginia, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Matt Rosendale of Montana. There were a few lawmakers who were absent, such as Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, McCarthy’s predecessor.
Until now, no House speaker had ever been removed by a motion to vacate. The move requires a simple majority of the House to succeed and can be triggered by a single member.
Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who has been the No. 3 House Republican, was among the GOP lawmakers who spoke in favor of McCarthy.
“Under Speaker McCarthy’s leadership, our House Republican majority has actually defied all odds and over-performed expectations again and again and again,” Emmer said on the House floor.
There has been a view among analysts that a divided Washington’s spending might not change that much even if Gaetz managed to oust McCarthy, as MarketWatch reported.
About 80% of Congress looks likely to vote for a spending deal that would call for some increases in outlays, Ukraine aid, money for the U.S.-Mexico border and a new commission on the nation’s debt, said Chris Krueger, managing director at TD Cowen’s Washington Research Group, in a note. That agreement would come around when a new deadline of Nov. 17 hits.
could end up taking a hit from the House’s drama, according to Stifel’s chief Washington policy strategist, Brian Gardner.
“Removing Mr. McCarthy as Speaker could fuel temporary risk-off sentiment in the markets,” Gardner wrote in a note Tuesday. He suggested that markets “might react negatively to government dysfunction.”
Stocks closed sharply lower Tuesday, after a report on job openings showed the labor market remains tight, leaving room for more interest-rate hikes.
A motion to vacate last went to a House vote in 1910, with then-Speaker Joseph Cannon surviving it and staying on as the chamber’s leader. Such a motion was filed in July 2015 against then-Speaker John Boehner and not voted on by the House at that time, but Boehner went on to announce his resignation in September 2015.
In addition, a motion to vacate was considered in 1997 but ultimately not used by a small group of House Republicans who had grown disgruntled with the leadership of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich.