In a coup from the most ultra-conservative sector of his own party, Kevin McCarthy the leader of the Republican majority in Congress was removed from the presidency of the House of Representatives, in the first vote in the history of the United States that expels the head of the congressmen, the third in the line of presidential succession. The lower house was now plunged into chaos and eventual paralysis that could delay key decisions.
The departure of McCarthy, whose nomination for the position had already emerged very weak, was forced by a group of more radical legislators from his party who were furious about the agreement that the head of the House had reached over the weekend with the White House to avoid the “shutdown” of the federal government due to lack of approved funds for its operation.
The political move shows the tension and chaos that exists within the Republican Party, fractured by the influence of the “Trumpists” and the most dialogue-oriented, which will make the approval of key laws and initiatives such as aid to Ukraine even more difficult. It is a sign of the tough political times in the United States, which will surely these months will be exacerbated when the November 2024 elections approach and – as everything indicates – the duel between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is repeated.
The vote was 216 votes in favor of his departure and 210 against.. It was the first in the history of the country that a Speaker of the House of Representatives was ejected from office in a vote. In 2015, due to another ultra-conservative offensive by the Tea Party, they had tried to displace leader John Boehner, who ended up resigning, but without reaching a vote.
The leader of the charge this time It was the radical Republican representative for Florida Mark Gaezwhich had already tried to hinder McCarthy’s nomination when Republicans narrowly took control of Congress after last year’s elections.
Gaez called for the vote Monday night after McCarthy had closed the deal with the White House. to extend until November 17 the debate in Congress to approve federal spending.
Gaetz had the support of a group of conservatives in the party and also some Democrats who were critical of McCarthy’s leadership.
The head of the House refused to undo the agreement with the White House on the “shutdown” and until the last minute he sought an agreement with Democratic legislators to support him in the vote on his leadership. But it had no result and it was the sentence of his fate. Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a letter to his colleagues that he wanted to work with Republicans, but that they would not vote to support McCarthy.
“It is now the responsibility of members of the Republican party to end the Civil War in the House of Representatives,” Jeffries said, announcing that he would vote to remove the opposition leader.
Jeffries referred to leadership that was highly resisted from the beginning and that had been plagued by fights and internal friction that many times paralyzed Congress just when it must discuss the new budget that includes critical military aid to Ukraine, which could now be more compromised.
“It’s a sad day,” Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma said as they debated, urging his colleagues not to leave the House majority in “chaos.”
But Gaetz then shot him: “Chaos is McCarthy!” “Chaos is someone we cannot trust his word,” bellowed the legislator, who had already accused McCarthy over the weekend of lying about the negotiations with the White House to avoid the “shutdown.”
McCarthy, a hopeless optimist who prides himself on never giving up, remained confident to the end about his ability to survive and defended his decision to work with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. “If you throw out a leader who has 99 percent of his conference, who kept the government open and paid the troops, I think we’re in a really bad place for how we’re going to run Congress,” he said Tuesday morning . But he was not lucky.
The Speaker’s impeachment vote has taken place only once in history in the House of Representatives, in 1910. Back then, progressive Republicans attempted to unseat then-President Joseph Cannon, a conservative known as “Uncle Joe.” , for refusing to bring their priorities to the floor for a vote. He survived that vote, but was weakened as a result. McCarthy is the first to be removed.
The Biden government watched the pitched battle of the Republicans from afar and preferred to always highlight the cost of political paralysis and the lack of consensus, which this last weekend was on the verge of forcing a new shutdown of the federal government, including the payment to the Armed Forces and other key services.
““It’s their chaos, it’s not what the American people want to see,” said presidential spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre when asked about the political crisis during her regular White House press conference.