How it happened
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, was removed as the speaker of the House of Representatives on Monday, in a historic vote that exposed deep divisions within his party. The House voted 216 to 210 to oust McCarthy, with eight Republicans joining all Democrats in supporting the motion to vacate the chair. This was the first time in US history that a speaker was removed by a vote of the House.
The vote was triggered by a group of far-right Republicans, led by Matt Gaetz of Florida, who were unhappy with McCarthy’s leadership and his willingness to compromise with Democrats on some issues. Gaetz filed a formal motion to eject McCarthy last week, after the speaker agreed to a deal with Democrats to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.
Gaetz and his allies accused McCarthy of betraying the Republican base and failing to stand up for former President Donald Trump, who remains popular among many conservatives. They also criticized McCarthy for not doing enough to challenge the results of the 2020 election, which Trump and his supporters falsely claimed was rigged.
Who is the new speaker
The House elected Patrick McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina, as the interim speaker until a permanent replacement is chosen. McHenry is the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee and a close ally of McCarthy. He is seen as a more moderate and pragmatic leader than Gaetz and his faction.
McHenry said he was honored to serve as the speaker and pledged to work with both parties to address the challenges facing the nation. He also thanked McCarthy for his service and expressed hope that he would remain in Congress. McCarthy, who was visibly emotional after the vote, said he had no plans to run for speaker again and did not confirm if he would stay as a lawmaker.
What it means for US politics
The removal of McCarthy as the speaker has significant implications for US politics and policy. It signals a shift in the balance of power within the Republican Party, with the far-right wing gaining more influence and leverage. It also raises questions about the future of the party and its ability to unify and appeal to a broader electorate.
The ouster of McCarthy also affects the relationship between the House and the White House, as well as the Senate. President Joe Biden, who has been trying to advance his domestic agenda through Congress, may face more resistance and obstruction from a more hostile and unpredictable House. The Senate, which is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, may also face more pressure and gridlock from the House.
The vote also has implications for the upcoming midterm elections in November, which will determine the control of Congress and the fate of Biden’s presidency. The Democrats, who currently have a slim majority in the House, may try to capitalize on the turmoil and division within the Republican Party and portray them as extreme and unfit to govern. The Republicans, on the other hand, may try to rally their base and mobilize them to vote against the Democrats and their policies.