If you didn’t already know, Kevin McCarthy has been removed as House speaker.
This is a big hoo-ha because it’s the first time a House speaker has been voted out of office.
US politics can be messy, so we’ve condensed everything you need to know in a nice summary.
Kevin McCarthy Ousted
If you don’t keep up with US politics, you should know that the country just narrowly averted a partial government shutdown over the weekend.
It certainly sounds like a relaxing way to spend the weekend.
On 29 September, McCarthy’s bill to fund the federal government failed to pass the House.
The bill featured significant government spending cuts and strict border policies.
However, a government shutdown would occur if no funding bill were passed.
He introduced a temporary funding bill that excluded the spending cuts and Ukraine funding.
The government shutdown was thus prevented as the Senate and President Joe Biden approved McCarthy’s funding bill.
After narrowly averting a partial government shutdown, McCarthy told the media, “If somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try.”
Representative Matt Gaetz led the rebellion against McCarthy.
He is a far-right Republican from Florida and an open critic of McCarthy.
He incited the bid to remove McCarthy when he relied on Democratic votes to help pass a bill to avoid a partial government shutdown.
McCarthy was ousted with a 216 to 210 vote.
This is the first time in history that the House removed its speaker.
208 Democrats voted to remove McCarthy, with eight Republicans voting to remove him as well.
The Republicans control the chamber by a very narrow majority.
By narrow, I mean they control the chamber by a 221-212 majority.
This means they can’t afford to lose more than five votes if the Democrats unite in opposition.
Since eight Republicans voted to remove McCarthy, he was dismissed.
McCarthy told reporters he doesn’t intend to run again for the position.
He said, “I fought for what I believe in. I believe I can continue to fight, but maybe in a different manner.”
Gaetz told reporters, “Kevin McCarthy is a creature of the swamp. He has risen to power by collecting special interest money and redistributing that money in exchange for favours.
“We are breaking the fever now.”
What does the Speaker of the House do?
In other words, you might be wondering what the big hoo-ha is about.
You can watch this video to find out more:
The US government is split into three branches.
The first is the Executive branch, which executes laws.
The second is Congress, which creates laws.
Lastly, the US government has the Judicial branch, which interprets these laws.
US President Joe Biden is the head of the executive branch, while McCarthy was the head of Congress.
If President Biden and Vice-President Kalama Harris resigned, McCarthy would have taken over as President of the USA.
So yes, the speaker of the House is a big deal.
This is why they must be well-respected.
Furthermore, anything the speaker does significantly impacts global politics.
One example would be the issue of Taiwan.
China doesn’t see Taiwan as a country and believes that Taiwan belongs to them.
Thus, when the previous House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan, it was a risky move.
It was the first time in 25 years that a high-ranking US official visited Taiwan.
Similarly, when McCarthy met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on US soil this year, it was seen as a political move.
He said, “China needs to understand that they can’t dictate who a Speaker of the House can meet with, either foe or friend.”
You can find out more in this video:
He referenced Ukraine, and in a climate where tensions between the US and China are increasing, that’s not good.
Following the visit, China began conducting military drills near Taiwan and even simulated attacks on critical targets in Taiwan.
Thus, the power of the speaker is immensely significant.
Who is the new Speaker of the House?
As of right now, the answer is unclear.
McCarthy had repeatedly angered Democrats in the past few weeks.
He launched an impeachment inquiry into Biden in September.
Furthermore, he gave them minimal time on Saturday to read a stopgap spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown.
Obviously, the Democrats were not happy with him.
Currently, representative Patrick McHenry was named temporary speaker.
McHenry currently leads the House Financial Services Committee.
Other Republican leaders like Steve Scalise and Tom Emmer could potentially be candidates for Speaker of the House, but none have publicly expressed interest.
When reporters asked Gaetz if he had anyone in mind, he suggested House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican and McCarthy ally.
He said, “I will not pass over Steve Scalise just because he has blood cancer.”
Scalise is currently ongoing chemotherapy for his cancer.
Notably, the House plans to leave for a week.
A speaker election is planned to be held next Wednesday.
Reasons for McCarthy’s Removal
Gaetz and some allies criticised McCarthy for relying on Democratic votes to pass temporary funding.
Gaetz repeatedly voted against McCarthy’s bid for House speaker in January.
He has always been a vocal critic of McCarthy.
Republic representative Bob Good said, “We need a speaker who will fight for anything – other than staying on as speaker.”
Representative Nancy Mace said she voted for McCarthy’s removal as he failed to fulfil his promise of improving birth control accessibility.
Moreover, Democrats viewed him as untrustworthy after he broke a May agreement on spending with Biden.
According to The Washington Post, the last straw was watching McCarthy blame them for the near-shutdown.
Kevin McCarthy’s Next Steps
Interestingly, McCarthy ran for House speaker in 2015 and failed.
Even though he managed to get this position successfully in 2023, his tenure lasted for a mere nine months, culminating in his ousting.
Additionally, he only managed to become speaker by making concessions to most conservative members.
He told reporters that he might endorse someone to succeed him but did not give any names as to who it should be.
He also said that he “hasn’t thought about” resigning from Congress.
This is despite the attacks from numerous members of his party.
Referencing Gaetz’s move, McCarthy labelled it “personal”.
McCarthy’s supporters have also claimed that Gaetz was motivated by a desire for publicity.
However, he has refuted the claims.
Gaetz also said that he was not motivated by a dislike of McCarthy.
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