Out with Kevin McCarthy: What’s Going on in the House of Representatives?

by Kirsten Carman ’27 on November 10, 2023


Two weeks ago, former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy made history as the first speaker to ever be removed from their position of power in Congress. Following his appointment in January, his short-term serve was considerably inevitable as he agreed to give any Republican member the power to call for a vote to remove him from the top spot if deemed necessary, in order to originally land the job. 

McCarthy was voted out and dethroned following the approval of a motion to vacate between eight hardline conservative Republicans and all Democrats, introduced by GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz. This was fueled after McCarthy succeeded in legislative victory after relying on Democrats to pass a short-term funding bill to avoid a government shutdown. Far-right members of the GOP were frustrated with this move, despite the White House being pleased, and heightened progressing resentments towards his leadership. 

The GOP caucus viewed McCarthy’s work with the Democratic side as the speaker no longer representing their interests. In the no-confidence vote, for the first time in history, McCarthy was officially dethroned from his position, as the final tally was 216–210. Sources have suggested that allies even begged Democratic House members to vote to save his speakership. Although they failed to do so, many supporters have said they plan to offer his name for the next round of speaker votes, but McCarthy has accepted this action and has expressed feelings of gratitude and no regret towards his time serving as speaker. 

Gaetz, commander and initiator of this motion, claimed that McCarthy never truthfully fulfilled his duties as speaker, whether that be to the White House, Democrats, or the conservative side of the Republican Caucus. Further, he has been proposing the idea of removing McCarthy from his position since he worked with Democrats on a debt ceiling deal back in the spring.

What happens now?

Now temporarily without a Speaker, the Republican majority in the House is struggling to find a replacement for the chief position. Essentially, the House is now paralyzed and cannot pass any legislation until a speaker is chosen to preside over all actions. Therefore, until further notice there can be no government funding bills and no policy bills. Of higher concerns, the government is bound to run out of money in less than a month, so a speaker is necessary to step in and begin negotiations between the White House and the Senate. 

In the search for a replacement, Republicans have selected chairman of the House Judiciary, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, as their speaker nominee. Controversy has sparked over this nomination as Jordan struggles to gain enough support to become speaker and opposition towards him is increasingly growing. Additionally, his controversial work in previous years and his close allyship with former President Donald Trump has many questioning if he would be the right person to hold this position. 

In order for a candidate to be selected to fill in the former position of McCarthy, votes will occur repeatedly until one person gains the majority. For the sake of our government and for our legislation, hopefully this will occur sooner rather than later and the House will gain more stable control.

Until Wednesday, Oct. 25, no Republican had garnered enough support from their party to gain a majority vote and secure the nomination for speaker. Mike Johnson, a 51-year-old congressman from Louisiana  finally secured a unanimous Republican vote on Wednesday.. Johnson is a little-known staunch conservative who represents Louisiana’s fourth district. His relatively far right-wing views won GOP radicals over, while holding together a Republican coalition. For an example of his views, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Johnson claimed that if women were compelled to give birth to, “able-bodied workers”, the GOP would not be so inclined to the few social programs we have, like Social Security and Medicare. Regardless, Johnson’s election ends the government chaos and may imply a newfound solidarity within the Republican party.