McCarthy removed as House speaker in a coup led by Gaetz

2023 10 04T000719Z 2029208826 RC2BL3AZG04N RTRMADP 3 USA CONGRESS MCCARTHY Large
Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters after he was ousted from the position of Speaker by a vote of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz initiated a move to remove fellow Republican Kevin McCarthy from the position of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, further adding to the ongoing turmoil in Congress. Gaetz, who has had ongoing disputes with McCarthy, introduced a “motion to vacate” that triggered a vote to oust McCarthy as speaker, making him the first speaker in US history to be removed with 216 votes against 210 on Tuesday.

When asked about a potential replacement for McCarthy, Gaetz mentioned Steve Scalise and several other Republicans. The Republican Party currently holds a narrow majority in the chamber (221-212), meaning that as few as five defections, in addition to unanimous Democratic opposition, jeopardized McCarthy’s position.

A close McCarthy ally, North Carolina’s Republican Patrick T McHenry will serve as acting speaker until a new speaker of the House is elected.

Gaetz and other far-right Republicans previously voted against McCarthy’s bid for speaker in January, which led to 15 rounds of voting before McCarthy secured the position. A change in rules in January allowed any member to call for a vote to remove the speaker, setting the stage for Gaetz’s recent action.

Matt Gaetz and a group of far-right Republicans are frustrated with Kevin McCarthy for relying on Democratic votes to pass a short-term funding extension, averting a government shutdown. This faction, including Gaetz, had repeatedly blocked other legislation, forcing McCarthy’s hand.

The recent stopgap bill, which passed on Saturday, lacked $6 billion in aid for Ukraine, a measure supported by Democrats and many Senate Republicans but opposed by right-wing House Republicans like Gaetz. The approval of this funding in Congress is currently uncertain.

The speaker of the House also positions the elected official as second in line for presidential succession after the vice president.

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