Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy has been unseated as Speaker of the House of Representatives after merely 269 days in office, it was reported from Washington DC.
The House passed by 216 votes to 210 the motion to remove him. Thus, McCarthy became the shortest-serving Speaker except for Theodore M. Pomeroy, who in 1869 was Speaker for one day, due to bureaucratic issues. McCarthy led for 269 days, during which he lived under pressure from the radical Republicans grouped under the so-called Freedom Caucus, also known as MAGA Republicans.
McCarthy had survived a motion against him in June when the US was on the verge of a default on its sovereign debt, at which time he reached an agreement with President Joseph Biden to raise the debt ceiling. For that arrangement, lawmakers closer to former President Donald Trump felt betrayed.
The US government then came close to a shutdown last week due to shaky budget negotiations for fiscal year 2024 called for deep cuts before a 45-day extension was announced last Saturday following a bipartisan deal pushed by McCarthy in which these reductions were waived. For this, MAGA Republicans gave him the final thumbs down.
Born in California 58 years ago, he served as Republican minority leader in the Lower House since 2019, with Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. Since 2014 and until then, with the Republicans leading the House and John Boehner and Paul Ryan as Speakers, he held the position of number two.
McCarthy was the first Republican leader to visit Trump's Mar-a-Lago (Fla.) mansion a few weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
For the first time in its 234-year history, the Lower House resolved to vacate the office of Speaker, and as a result of the initiative of a lawmaker from the hard-line wing of the Republican Party itself - Matt Gaetz. This left the way clear for an unprecedented race to succeed McCarthy a year before the next elections. The Speaker of the House is constitutionally second in the presidential line of succession, preceded only by Vice President Kamala Harris.
In the meantime, the role of Speaker of the House will be assumed provisionally by Congressman Patrick McHenry - also a Republican and McCarthy's nominee - but with the duties of the office and of the body itself significantly diminished. Until McCarthy's formal successor is chosen, the House of Representatives will not be able to debate legislative business and McHenry will only be empowered to recognize nominations of speakers and declare the body in recess or adjourned.
After the announcement, McCarthy said he would not run again. It has been an honor to serve, he stressed on X (formerly Twitter) after eight Republicans (Andy Biggs, Ken Buck, Tim Burchett, Eli Crane, Matt Gaetz, Bob Good, Nancy Mace, and Matt Rosendale) joined a unanimous Democratic caucus in a vote to unseat him, thus becoming the first House Speaker in history to be ousted by a House vote. I may have lost a vote today, but I fought for what I believe in - and I believe in America, he added.
I don't regret standing up for choosing government over grievance. It is my responsibility. It is my job. I do not regret negotiating. Our government is designed to find compromise. I don't regret my efforts to build coalitions and find solutions, McCarthy said. I was raised to solve problems not create them.