Lawmakers have voted to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from his leadership role, the first time in the history of the House of Representatives that the chamber voted to boot a member from the top job.
Eight Republicans voted with every present Democrat to vacate the speaker’s chair. The final vote was 216 to 210 in favor of McCarthy’s ouster.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., introduced a measure against McCarthy known as a motion to vacate on Monday night, accusing him of breaking promises he made to win the speaker’s gavel in January.
Tensions flared during an hour of debate before the actual motion to vacate, after 11 Republicans voted with every Democrat to advance the measure. McCarthy’s allies had taken up all of the microphones on the GOP side of the chamber, forcing Gaetz to make his case from the side where Democrats traditionally sit.
‘Chaos is Speaker McCarthy. Chaos is somebody who we cannot trust with their word,’ Gaetz said as McCarthy looked down at his lap.
At one point, an outraged McCarthy ally, Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., accused Gaetz and his cohorts of sending fundraising efforts on their motion to vacate. He fumed while pointing to his phone, ‘Using official actions to make money, it’s disgusting.’
Chants of ‘shame’ erupted on the House GOP side of the chamber.
Gaetz responded, ‘When it comes to how those raise money, I take no lecture on asking patriotic Americans to weigh in and contribute to this fight from those who would grovel and bend knee for the lobbyists and special interests who own our leadership.’
A Republican lawmaker shouted at Gaetz, ‘You’re no martyr.’
Democrats signaled early on Tuesday that they would not be inclined to help McCarthy. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said before the vote that Democrats ‘are ready to find bipartisan common ground. Our extreme colleagues have shown no willingness to do the same. They must find a way to end the House Republican civil war.’
In January, it took 15 rounds of voting until McCarthy was elected.
McCarthy angered hardliners over the weekend when he passed a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open for 45 days in order to avert a government shutdown and give lawmakers more time to cobble together 12 individual spending bills.
Ninety House Republicans voted against the CR on Saturday, arguing that it was a ‘clean’ extension of the previous Democrat-held Congress’ policies. But the speaker’s previous attempts to put a CR on the table that would cut spending for its short duration were upended by several of those same conservatives who were opposed to any such measure on principle.
The frustration at the small number of rebels was palpable among House Republicans on Tuesday morning.
‘This is a distraction from what we should be focusing on, which is the appropriations process,’ said Main Street Caucus Vice Chair Stephanie Bice, R-Okla. ‘This is all about Matt Gaetz. It’s not about Kevin McCarthy. Matt Gaetz is using the American people as pawns in his narcissistic game of charades.’