WASHINGTON — In an unprecedented decision, the House of Representatives voted to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from his position as Speaker of the House.
Spearheading the resolution was Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has been publicly critical of McCarthy’s handling of last week’s budget crisis and near government shutdown.
Republicans pushed for steeper spending cuts and funding to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border. McCarthy, however, negotiated with House Democrats to pass a 45 day stopgap spending bill to avoid the shutdown.
“It is becoming increasingly clear who the Speaker of the House already works for, and it’s not the Republican conference,” said Gaetz.
However, McCarthy was backed by the majority of the House GOP. Many of them praised not only his leadership but his character. They also stressed the implications of vacating the speakership.
“Attempting to remove Speaker McCarthy will put this house in a stalemate and paralyze our ability to fight for our constituents,” Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) said.
The government is currently running on a short-term spending bill that expires Nov. 17. If the budget for the upcoming fiscal year isn’t passed, the government will shut down, and millions of federal workers will go without pay. For Bice and many of her colleagues, ousting the Speaker greatly hinders the possibility of passing a budget on time.
Eight Republicans joined the all House Democrats in voting to remove McCarthy. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) was one of those eight Republicans. He previously told McCarthy he was going to “pray” on the decision. Then the former Speaker made an undisclosed comment about his prayer.
“It was condescending,” said Burchett. “I felt belittled. He could’ve said something genuine and he didn’t.”
On a potential replacement, Burchett said he wasn’t sure. Gaetz had previously listed options like Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Tom Emmer (R-Minn.). When asked if he would support Scalise, Burchett said he “absolutely” would.
Until Congress nominates and elects a new Speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) – Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee – will act as the temporary replacement.