Washington —from his leadership position in a historic vote on Tuesday after a over his reliance on Democrats to pass funding to avert a .
The final vote was 216-210, with eight Republicans joining all the Democrats to vote to remove McCarthy. It’s the first time a House speaker has been removed in a no-confidence vote.
“The office of Speaker of the House of the United House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant,” said Rep. Steve Womack, who was serving as presiding officer.
Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a top ally of McCarthy’s and a member of the Financial Services Committee, was then appointed speaker pro tempore. The rules of the 118th Congress state that “in the case of a vacancy in the office of speaker, the next member” named on a list submitted by McCarthy to the clerk of the House in January will become speaker pro tempore until a speaker is elected.
“The one thing that the White House, House Democrats and many of us on the conservative side of the Republican caucus would argue is the thing we have in common — Kevin McCarthy said something to all of us at one point or another that he didn’t really mean and never intended to live up to,” Gaetz said on the House floor Tuesday ahead of the vote.
Along with Gaetz, seven Republican members voted to oust McCarthy —Reps. Andy Biggs, Ken Buck, Tim Burchett, Eli Crane, Bob Good, Nancy Mace and Matt Rosendale.
A day earlier, Gaetz accused McCarthy of making a “secret side deal” with President Biden onto get a short-term funding bill passed hours before the government was set to shutdown. McCarthy denied having made any deal in exchange for Democratic votes.
Eleven Republicans voted against the earlier motion to table Gaetz’s resolution, an ominous sign of what was to come for McCarthy.
The Speaker of the House is not only the leader of the chamber but also second in line for the presidency. Ousting a sitting speaker by vote in the middle of a congressional term is unprecedented in American history, and McCarthy’s allies warned that doing so would set a precedent that would hang over every speaker moving forward. That argument did not persuade Democrats to come to McCarthy’s rescue.
“We’re in uncharted territory. We’ve never had this situation before,” Matthew Green, a politics professor at Catholic University, told CBS News.
Green said the vote shows the Republican Party has “too many members who don’t like McCarthy personally or otherwise are disdainful of party norms.”
“There was a norm that you don’t do this. This rule has been on the books more or less continuously since 1910,” Green said. “You’ve got a party that’s very small and you’ve got a faction of members who are disdainful of these norms, and that makes it extremely difficult to govern.”
Democratic leadership members had urged their caucus to vote “yes” on the motion to vacate.
“Given their unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism in an authentic and comprehensive manner, House Democratic leadership will vote yes on the pending Republican Motion to Vacate the Chair,” Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries wrote to his caucus.
Up until the vote, McCarthy had expressed confidence to reporters that he would prevail.
“I’m an optimist because I think there’s no point in being anything else,” McCarthy said.
He said earlier that he spoke with Jeffries Tuesday morning, but when he was asked whether he would have to rely on the votes of Democrats to retain the speakership, he replied, “No, I personally am not.”
At a caucus meeting Tuesday morning, Rep. Pete Aguilar played a clip from the speaker’s appearance Sunday on “Face the Nation,” in which he blamed Democrats for nearly shutting down the government. In fact, more Democrats than Republicans voted forfor 45 days.
Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal said her party would be unanimous in voting against McCarthy.
“We are following our leader, and we are not saving Kevin McCarthy,” she said.
The removal of a speaker of the House is unprecedented.
“Well it’s never happened before. We’ve never had a speaker be ousted through the motion to vacate,” said Casey Burgat, assistant professor and legislative affairs program director at George Washington University.
Gaetz has consistently opposed McCarthy’s speakership, and was among those who helped draw out the process of electing him speaker to a record 15 rounds of voting.McCarthy agreed to a condition making it possible for a single member to motion to oust the speaker. That deal has come back to haunt him. McCarthy said Gaetz’s challenge to his speakership is “personal.”
“He’s more interested in securing TV interviews,” McCarthy said of the Florida Republican.
Historical precedent for ousting a speaker
There have been three resolutions offered since 1910 to declare the speakership vacant, but only one ever received a vote.
In 1910, Republican House Speaker Joe Cannon invited a vote on his ouster, which was easily defeated. Cannon remained speaker for another year and lost his seat in the 1912 election.
Republican Rep. Mark Meadows introduced a resolution in 2015 to remove House Speaker John Boehner from leadership. But it never received a floor vote because it wasn’t introduced as a privileged resolution, instead being referred to the House Rules Committee. Still, Boehner resigned within two months.
In 2019, Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham introduced a resolution to expel House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and declare the Office of the Speaker vacant. The measure was referred to the House Committee on Ethics and the House Committee on Rules.
— Melissa Quinn, Scott McFarlane, John Nolen, Ellis Kim and Jack Turman contributed to this report