WASHINGTON (WCSC/AP) - Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted out of the job Tuesday in an extraordinary showdown — a first in U.S. history, forced by a contingent of hard-right conservatives and throwing the House and its Republican leadership into chaos.
McCarthy told lawmakers in the evening he would not run again for speaker, putting the gavel up for grabs. Next steps are highly uncertain with no obvious successor to lead the House Republican majority. Action is halted in the House until next week, when Republicans try to elect a new speaker.
McCarthy’s chief rival, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, orchestrated the rare vote on the obscure “motion to vacate,” and pushed ahead swiftly into a dramatic afternoon roll call.
While McCarthy enjoyed support from most Republicans in his slim majority, eight Republican detractors — many of the same hard-right holdouts who tried to stop him from becoming speaker in January — essentially forced him out.
Stillness fell as the presiding officer gaveled the vote closed, 216-210, saying the office of the speaker “is hereby declared vacant.”
Among those Republicans voting to oust McCarthy was Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina.
The congresswoman took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to justify the vote.
“I promised the Lowcountry I would be an independent voice in Congress,” Mace said. “That I would call the balls and strikes and do the right thing regardless of party.”
Mace said McCarthy had not lived up to his word and that he had not taken action on many issues “we care about and were promised.”
“Today I’m voting against 95 percent of my party in the hopes of fixing how Congress operates,” Mace said. “With the current Speaker, this chaos will continue. We need a fresh start so we can get back to the people’s business free of these distractions.”
Mace said she was willing to work with and vote for a Speaker that would get the House “back on a path to delivering results for the people.”
Rep. Partick McHenry (R-N.C.) was named speaker pro tempore, to serve in the office until a new speaker is chosen.
Removing the speaker launches the House Republicans into chaos heading into a busy fall when Congress will need to fund the government again or risk a mid-November shutdown.
Joining Gaetz and Mace were Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), Elijah Crane (R-Ariz.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Matthew Rosendale (R-Mont.) and 208 Democrats.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.