Written by Ben Kairouz
Edited by Annika Lilja
Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives on January 3, 2023. However, on October 3, 2023, he was voted out of the job by the House in a historic move. In the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans gained a narrow majority in the House of Representatives. McCarthy was elected Speaker with the support of most Republicans, but he faced significant opposition from a far-right, more extreme, faction of the party. In the early months of 2023, McCarthy struggled to maintain control of his conference. He was forced to make a number of concessions, as he was in the process of becoming speaker, to the far-right, including making changes to the House rules that made it easier to challenge his leadership. In September 2023, Congress faced the prospect of a government shutdown unless it could pass a spending bill. McCarthy negotiated a deal with Democrats to avert the shutdown, but this enraged the far-right members of his conference.
On October 3, 2023, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida filed a motion to vacate the office of the speaker, which was passed by the full House on a vote of 216 to 210, with eight Republicans joining all voting Democrats, who collectively voted against McCarthy after his alienation of the party on TV. McCarthy was the first Speaker of the House to be removed through a vote of the full House in the middle of a congressional term.
There are a number of factors that contributed to McCarthy's removal; one being the growing division within the Republican Party between its moderate and conservative wings. McCarthy is seen as a moderate, and he has been criticized by some conservatives for being too willing to work with Democrats.
McCarthy's ousting has left the Republican Party in chaos. However, a new speaker has been elected, Mike Johnson. Johnson is a conservative Republican who has served in the House of Representatives since 2017. He is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans who have been critical of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Johnson was able to unify the fractious Republican Conference by winning votes from both right-wing and centrist Republicans. He was seen as a compromise candidate who could appeal to both the conservative and moderate wings of the party. As the next elected speaker after a historic past couple of weeks, Johnson has a lot of pressure to connect both Republicans and the entire House under one unified agenda.
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