Kevin McCarthy Alamy Stock Photo
now what

Why was the US House Speaker ousted and what happens next?

This was one decision Republicans and Democrats were united on, as both sides deemed McCarthy untrustworthy.

KEVIN MCCARTHY WAS last night ousted as speaker of the US House of Representatives in a brutal rebellion by the far-right of the Republican party furious at his cooperation with Democrats.

It signals unrest in the Republican party in the lead up to the presidential election.

Donald Trump himself, who was in court yesterday as the drama unfolded, criticised them for “always fighting among themselves”.

But what led to McCarthy getting the boot? And who will fill his shoes?

What happened?

Ironically, this was one decision Republicans and Democrats were united on, as both sides deemed McCarthy untrustworthy.

The 58-year-old Californian former entrepreneur had sparked fury among conservatives at the weekend when he passed a bipartisan stopgap funding measure backed by the White House to avert a government shutdown.

Florida conservative Matt Gaetz, who forced the removal vote, gambled that he could oust McCarthy with just a few Republicans, helped by Democrats loath to help a speaker who only recently opened a highly politicised impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

washington-october-3-rep-matt-gaetz-r-fla-speaks-to-the-media-on-the-house-steps-of-the-capitol-after-his-motion-to-vacate-the-office-of-the-speaker-passed-on-tuesday-october-3-2023-bill-cl Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks to the media on the House steps of the Capitol after his motion to vacate the Office of the Speaker passed Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Republicans were warned by leadership about plunging the party “into chaos” but Gaetz, who has repeatedly complained about McCarthy failing to honor agreements made with the far right, retorted: “Chaos is Speaker McCarthy.”

“Chaos is somebody who we cannot trust with their word,” he added.

Unity in division

Democrats, too, had no love for McCarthy, pointing to his decision to renege on a deal with Biden on spending limits hammered out earlier this year in high-stakes talks over the federal budget.

The pro-business New Democrat Coalition, a large group of Democratic lawmakers, described McCarthy as “simply not trustworthy”.

And Congressional Progressive Caucus chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, a leading leftist, vowed to let Republicans “wallow in their pigsty of incompetence” rather than rescue McCarthy.

former-house-speaker-kevin-mccarthy-r-ca-speaks-to-reporters-after-being-outed-from-his-position-as-house-speaker-earlier-in-the-day-at-the-us-capitol-in-washington-dc-on-tuesday-october-03-2023 McCarthy speaks to reporters after being ousted Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The tussle came two days after the House and Senate passed a measure to avert a costly government shutdown — both with big bipartisan majorities — by extending federal funding through mid-November.

Conservatives were furious, seeing their chances dashed for forcing massive budget cuts.

They accused McCarthy of a flip-flop, saying he’d promised an end to hastily prepared stopgap legislation, hammered out with the support of the opposition, and a return to budgeting through the committee process.

Every Democrat then joined the 11 rebel Republicans to reject a preliminary motion which would have prevented the final ouster vote from taking place.

New Speaker

With McCarthy out, the House rules provide for a temporary speaker to put the House into recess until a permanent replacement is elected.

Republicans will gather to put up a candidate for a vote to be the new speaker — and it is not out of the question that McCarthy could be nominated for a return to the role he just lost.

The Republican hardliners had tried doggedly to block McCarthy from getting the job back in January, forcing him to go through 15 rounds of votes until he finally made enough concessions to appease them and win approval.

rep-kevin-mccarthy-r-calif-leaves-the-house-floor-after-being-ousted-as-speaker-of-the-house-at-the-capitol-in-washington-tuesday-oct-3-2023-ap-photomark-schiefelbein McCarthy leaves the House floor after being ousted Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The fight ultimately demonstrated that he has the support of most of the party, and he could try to persuade the rank-and-file to rally behind him once more.

Alternatively, he may bow out. This would set up a showdown among his lieutenants – most likely House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer.

But Republican hopefuls may shy from taking on what looks like a poisoned chalice in which the hard-right faction will continue to exercise control from the sidelines.

With reporting by AFP

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.