The House of Representatives made history on Tuesday by voting to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his post, setting up another grueling speaker election without a clear successor.
Why it matters: This could create an unprecedented stalemate in the House. McCarthy’s speaker election in January took the most ballots since before the Civil War, and Republicans have struggled to maintain a functioning majority for moving legislation.
- The final count was 216 to 210. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a close McCarthy ally, will serve as acting speaker until a new one is elected.
- Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced the motion to vacate on Monday, with eight Republicans joining all House Democrats on the final vote to remove McCarthy.
- The Republicans voting no included Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Eli Crane of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Matt Rosendale of Montana.
Ahead of the vote, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said it was “now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War.”
Gaetz, who has long had a contentious relationship with McCarthy, threatened to introduce the motion for weeks if the California Republican allowed a continuing resolution to stop a government shutdown to come to the floor.
Inside the room: Tensions were high between Gaetz and McCarthy allies ahead of the vote.
- “I look across this floor, you can divide members in three groups. I’m very happy to be in the first group, the overwhelming majority of my party supports the speaker that we elected,” said House Rules Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.). “There’s a second group, a small group, honestly they’re willing to plunge this body into chaos and this country into uncertainty for reasons that only they really understand.”
- “The one thing that the White House, House Democrats, and many of us on the conservative side of the Republican caucus would argue is that the thing we have in common, Kevin McCarthy said something to all of us at one point or another that he didn’t really mean and never intended to live up to,” Gaetz said in the floor.
- Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) took aim at Gaetz for fundraising off the challenge, to which Gaetz shot back that he’d rather fund his “political operation through hard-working Americans and y’all keep showing up at the lobbyist fundraisers,” which was met with boos from the chamber.
Gaetz took aim some of his own allies in the process over the handling of impeachment.
- “The problem with my friend from Ohio’s [Rep. Jim Jordan] argument is many of the bills he referenced as having passed are not law,” he said.
- “We are on a fast track to an omnibus bill and it is difficult to champion oversight when House Republicans haven’t even sent a subpoena to Hunter Biden. It’s hard to make the argument that oversight is the reason to continue when it sort of looks like failure theater.”
Between the lines: Gaetz helped lead the efforts against McCarthy during the speaker’s election in January, leading to days of chaos until the California Republican ultimately succeeded on the 15th vote.
- Members of the House Freedom Caucus previously played a leading role in former Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to step down from his position after threatening to use the mechanism to oust him.
The big picture: House Republicans will now be tasked with selecting a new speaker.
- McCarthy can run again for speaker if he chooses.
- Other names floated include Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) and Mike Johnson (R-La.).
- On Fox News after the vote, Gaetz mentioned Emmer, Johnson, Hern, Scalise and Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) as speaker possibilities.