In his first appearance since being ousted from the House speakership, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Tuesday night that hard-line Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., ‘are not conservatives.’
‘They voted against one of the greatest cuts in history that Congress has ever voted for, $2 trillion. They voted against work requirements. They voted against NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) reform. They voted against border security. They don’t get to say they’re conservative because they’re angry, and they’re chaotic,’ McCarthy said.
His comments came just hours after Gaetz introduced a motion to vacate McCarthy — and succeeded — with the help of hard-liners in his own party and 208 House Democrat votes. McCarthy said he would not seek to be reelected as speaker.
Hard-line conservatives and Democrats voted in sync to seal the deal on Tuesday as the vote to vacate commenced after an hour of passionate debate with McCarthy’s supporters and dissenters.
Gaetz introduced a motion to vacate on Monday night, accusing McCarthy of breaking the promises he made to win the speaker’s gavel in January. Meanwhile, Democrats condemned his ‘lack of interest in bipartisanship’ while Republicans jabbed his apparent failure to pass a government spending patch with additional border security provisions and not enough budget cuts.
‘I made a decision as speaker to keep the government open, and I put something on the floor,’ McCarthy said.
McCarthy angered hard-liners 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 to avert a government shutdown and give lawmakers more time to cobble together 12 individual spending bills.
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., shocked McCarthy as she joined the seven other GOP lawmakers who voted to boot him.
‘Nancy Mace is a whole other story,’ McCarthy told reporters.
Democrats signaled early on Tuesday that they were not inclined to help McCarthy. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said before the vote, ‘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 as speaker.
Fox News’ Liz Elkind contributed to this report.