Legislators have voted to oust GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California from his leadership role, the first time in the House of Representative’s history that the chamber voted to kick a member from its top job.
Eight members of the GOP voted with every present Democrat to vacate the speaker’s chair. The final vote was 216 to 210 in favor of the ouster.
Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida introduced a measure against the speaker known as a motion to vacate on Monday night, accusing him of breaking promises he made in January to win the speaker’s gavel.
Tensions rose during an hour of debate before the actual motion to vacate, after 11 Republicans voted along with every Democrat to advance the measure.
Allies of McCarthy had taken up all microphones on the Republican side of the chamber, forcing Rep. 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,” said Gaetz as McCarthy looked downward.
At one point, outraged ally of McCarthy, Republican Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana, accused Gaetz and his cohorts of sending fundraising efforts while pursuing their motion to vacate.
Graves fumed while pointing to his phone, “Using official actions to make money, it’s disgusting.”
Chants of “shame” erupted on the House Republican side of the chamber.
“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 a knee for the lobbyists and special interests who own our leadership.”
A GOP lawmaker shouted at Gaetz, “You’re no martyr.”
Democrats signaled early Tuesday that they wouldn’t be inclined to help McCarthy. Democrat House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York 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 to elect McCarthy.
McCarthy angered conservative hardliners by passing a short-term continuing resolution
McCarthy angered hardliners over the weekend when he passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) spending bill to keep the government open for 45 days to avert a government shutdown and allow lawmakers additional time to cobble together 12 individual spending bills.
Ninety GOP House members voted against the CR Saturday, arguing it was a “clean” extension of the previous Democrat-led Congress’ policies. However, the speaker’s prior attempts to put a CR on the table that would cut spending for its short duration were upended by several of the same conservatives opposed to any such measure on principle.
Frustration at the small number of rebels was intense among House Republicans 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, a Republican from Oklahoma. “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.”