'There Has to Be Consequences' for Kevin McCarthy's Ouster

Ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich isn't the only one baffled by fellow Republicans' machinations
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2023 6:52 AM CDT
'There Has to Be Consequences' for Kevin McCarthy's Ouster
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-NC is seen after former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted out of the job by a contingent of hard-right conservatives in an extraordinary showdown, a first in US history, at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Kevin McCarthy has said he won't run again for the coveted House speaker gavel, after being ousted in a historic 216-210 vote Tuesday thanks to a rebellion of far-right Republicans led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who joined with all the House Democrats in booting McCarthy. Now, that unprecedented vote in the nation's history—McCarthy is the first House speaker ever kicked out of the job—sends the chamber into "a period of unpredictability and paralysis," notes the Washington Post. More analysis, and a glimpse at what may be coming down the pike:

  • No help from Dems: NPR lists some takeaways from Tuesday's events, including that "the Democrats chose not to save McCarthy." Time quotes some of them, including Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger. "I think he's likely the most unprincipled person to ever be speaker of the House," Spanberger said before the vote. "He's disdainful, he lies about us, he lies about the process of governance. It's not even a question of whether or not we should take any particular action."

  • More Dems react: The New York Times, which describes a now "ungovernable GOP," details how McCarthy failed to not only unite Republicans, but also how he "deeply alienated" lawmakers on the other side of the aisle. "This is someone who betrays his word on pretty much a daily basis," California Rep. Adam Schiff says. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland adds, "This is a somber day for America as the chickens come home to roost for Kevin McCarthy."
  • Temporary fill-in: The Washington Post dives deep into North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, who was appointed as speaker pro tempore after McCarthy was removed. The 10-term lawmaker, 47, has limited powers, though he opted Tuesday to use his new role as an opportunity to remove former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from her "hideaway" office at the Capitol.
  • Who'll fill in for good: The New York Times notes there "isn't a clear candidate in waiting," though McHenry's name does make the short list. Others being mentioned include Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the top woman in Republican House leadership. The AP also mentions Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who heads up the House Judiciary Committee, and Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, chair of the Republican Study Committee. Democrats, meanwhile, will almost certainly position House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries as their choice for speaker.

  • Perception: So how does all this bode for Republicans heading into a big election year? Politico deems the GOP a "rudderless ship," with one Republican lawmaker noting that what went down Tuesday was akin to "stepping on a rake." "Asked how voters are viewing the party's speakership debacle, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito [of West Virginia] offered a guess," per the outlet. "'Are you guys nuts?' she said. 'That's what they are thinking.'"
  • 'A failed state': That's how John Harris, also for Politico, frames the modern-day GOP, though he notes that McCarthy isn't alone in the "optical illusion" of his speakership. "For a quarter century, every Republican to ascend to the speakership has descended from it with his standing diminished," he writes. "It's a line that travels from Newt Gingrich to Dennis Hastert to John Boehner to Paul Ryan to McCarthy." Harris also asserts that "authority and order" Republicans have fallen into a state of "nihilism."
  • Gingrich's take: The 80-year-old, who served as GOP House speaker from 1995 until 1999, railed on the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, calling them "traitors" who made an "astonishingly destructive" decision and should "all be driven out of public life," per the Daily Beast. Gingrich reserved special ire for Gaetz, who he says should be expelled for being "actively destructive to the conservative movement," per an op-ed in the Washington Post. "Some behavior crosses the line," Gingrich writes. "And when it does, there has to be consequences."
  • Final word from McCarthy: In a tweet announcing he wouldn't seek the gavel again, the former House speaker delivered a message to the nation. "I may have lost a vote today, but I fought for what I believe in—and I believe in America," McCarthy wrote Tuesday night. "It has been an honor to serve."
(Read more Kevin McCarthy stories.)

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