Image Courtesy of NPR
By John Maggio
In a historic first for the nation’s legislature, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA 20th) has been removed from being Speaker of the House of Representatives after a motion to vacate was proposed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL 1st). This motion came days after then-Speaker McCarthy made a deal with the Democrats to pass a continuing resolution mere hours before a government shutdown on Saturday. The interim Speaker for the time will be Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC 10th).
The vote on Tuesday was 216-210, with 7 members not voting (there are two vacant seats, RI 1st and UT 2nd). 208 Democrats voted for the motion, none voting against it, and 4 not voting. 210 Republicans voted against the motion, with 8 voting for the removal and 3 not voting. One Representative whose absence was of note was Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th), as The New York Times reports her going back to California to attend the funeral of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a dear friend and colleague of the former Speaker.
Those 8 members that voted with the Democrats were: Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ 5th), Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO 4th), Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN 2nd), Rep. Elijah Crane (R-AZ 2nd), Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Bob Good (R-VA 5th), Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC 1st), and Rep. Matthew Rosendale (R-MT 2nd).
Rep. Gaetz said he called for the removal because while Rep. McCarthy was telling Republicans about a continuing resolution with no funding for Ukraine, there was a “secret deal” made with Democrats to provide funding for Ukraine in order to avoid a shutdown. The 45-day continuing resolution that avoided the shutdown last weekend had no funding for the war-torn Ukraine.
While the House decides on their new Speaker, all business has been halted. With a shutdown happening at 12:01 AM on November 18, House Republicans must act fast when deciding the new Speaker. With Rep. McCarthy saying he will not seek reelection for the speakership, this leaves the seat open to a number of candidates. Two frontrunners at this point are House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA 1st) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH 4th). The latter of the candidates was one of the candidates during the historic Republican gridlock in January when it took 15 rounds to elect Rep. McCarthy as Speaker.
Another name being thrown into the Speaker race was also nominated back in January: Former President and 2024 US Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX 22nd) said that he will nominate the former President given Trump’s“proven record of putting America first”. To be Speaker, there is not a legal qualification to be a member of the House, though every Speaker has been a Representative.
The Democrats will be nominating House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY 8th) for the speakership, though it is unlikely that the Democrats will be able to get at least 5 Republicans to break from their party to vote for the New York Congressman. Although unlikely, this would be two historic firsts: the first post-Civil War Speaker from the minority party and the first black Speaker of the House.