WASHINGTON, Oct 3 (Reuters) – A handful of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives ousted Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday as intraparty conflict threw Congress into further chaos just days after narrowly averting a government shutdown.
The 216-210 vote saw eight Republicans and 208 Democrats vote to remove McCarthy, marking the first time in history that the House has removed a party leader. McCarthy told reporters he has no intention of running for speaker again.
“I fought for what I believed in,” McCarthy said. “I believe I can continue to fight, but I will probably continue to fight in a different way.”
The House will wait for at least a week after several Republicans said they planned to meet on Oct. 10 to discuss potential successors to McCarthy and said a vote on a new speaker was scheduled for Oct. 11. It was expected that the situation would continue without a leader.
Tuesday’s insurrection was led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, a far-right Republican from Florida and Mr. McCarthy’s opponent, who on Saturday lobbied Democrats to pass legislation to avert a partial government shutdown. After relying on votes, he finally vented his anger on the chairman.
“Kevin McCarthy is a beast of a quagmire. He rose to power by collecting special interest and redistributing that money in exchange for favors. We are now breaking the frenzy.” Gates said. told reporters after the vote.
It was the most dramatic moment of the year, when the Republican-controlled House pushed Washington to the brink of a catastrophic default on $31.4 trillion in U.S. debt and a partial government shutdown.
Republicans control the chamber by a narrow margin of 221-212, meaning that even if Democrats unite in opposition, they can lose within five votes.
The removal of Mr. McCarthy as speaker has halted legislative activity in the House of Representatives, and the deadline for another government shutdown approaches Nov. 17 unless Congress extends funding.
The White House said it expects the House to move quickly to select a replacement speaker, who is second in office to the vice president.
The vote puts Congress in uncharted territory as it races to update farm subsidies and nutrition programs, pass federal funding legislation and consider further aid to Ukraine.
It was unclear who would replace Mr. McCarthy.
Mr. McCarthy has given little time in recent weeks to launching an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden or reading the emergency spending bill to avert a government shutdown that Democrats needed to vote to pass on Saturday. He repeatedly angered Democrats.
Democrats could have saved Mr. McCarthy, but after considering it, they said they would not help Republicans solve their own problems.
Other Republican leaders such as Steve Scalise and Tom Emmer are also potential candidates, but neither has publicly expressed interest. Congressman Patrick McHenry has been appointed to the post on an interim basis.
The last two Republicans, Paul Ryan and John Boehner, retired from Congress after clashes with the right.
In a debate on the House floor, Mr. Gaetz and a few allies criticized Mr. McCarthy for relying on Democratic votes to pass temporary funding that would lead to a partial government shutdown.
“We need a speaker who will fight for something, no matter what, other than being the speaker,” said Republican Rep. Bob Good.
Rep. Nancy Mace told reporters she voted to remove McCarthy as speaker because he broke promises to improve access to contraception and support legislation he authored on rape kits. he told reporters.
“I made a deal with Kevin McCarthy that I would no longer continue to support women in this country,” Mace said. “We’re not doing anything for them.”
Mr. McCarthy’s supporters, including some of the chamber’s most vocal conservatives, say that even though Democrats control the White House and the Senate, Mr. McCarthy has limited spending and “We have succeeded in advancing key priorities,” he said.
“Please think twice before you throw us into chaos. That’s where we’re headed,” Republican Representative Tom Cole said.
no democratic support
Democrats said they deemed Mr. McCarthy untrustworthy after he broke a May spending agreement with Mr. Biden.
“Let’s just leave them in the pigpen of incompetence,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal told reporters before the vote.
Mr. Gaetz was one of more than a dozen Republicans who repeatedly voted against Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker in January. Mr. McCarthy ultimately secured his gavel after 15 votes over four days. To win the job, Mr. McCarthy agreed to rules that would make it easier for him to challenge his own leadership.
McCarthy supporters say Gates was motivated by a thirst for fame, a chance to achieve higher office, or anger over ongoing ethics investigations into possible sexual misconduct and illegal drug use. Says.
Mr. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and said he was not motivated by hatred of Mr. McCarthy.
“This is not a criticism of an individual. This is a criticism of a job. The work is not yet done,” he said.
Reporting by Makini Brice, David Morgan, Richard Cowan, Nandita Bose, Moira Warburton, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu. Written by Andy Sullivan.Editing: Scott Malone, Alistair Bell, Howard Goller, Grant McCool, Cynthia Osterman
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