US Attorney General Matt Whitaker predicted that Kevin McCarthy would lose his speakership in the House of Representatives because his support was wafer thin, even though he had done the right thing for the country. “I don’t think anybody, including the House or the Senate, wanted the government to shut down, so ultimately this was a good thing,” Whitaker said. Nevertheless, in unprecedented drama, McCarthy was ousted.
The scenes unfolded on October 3 after Floridian Rep. and long-time critic of McCarthy Matt Gaetz filed a motion to vacate the chair. Gaetz was furious that McCarthy rushed legislation through the House to extend federal funding until November 17 and prevent a government shutdown. Ninety Republicans opposed the resolution because it did not contain the spending cuts they sought in exchange for their support to extend funding. Nonetheless, McCarthy put the vote to the floor, and it passed with Democrat support.
Gaetz’s motion to vacate the chair followed within days, and among tense scenes, eight Republicans joined 208 Democrats and ousted Mr. McCarthy from the chair. There are no clear contenders for his replacement, but Republicans must move quickly as House business is limited until they do. Patrick McHenry from North Carolina will occupy the chair until a permanent replacement is elected.
Mr. McCarthy, from California, threw back his head and laughed as the result was announced, having previously insisted he would survive the vote.
Some Republicans are unhappy with Matt Gaetz for doing precisely what he condemned McCarthy for – teaming up with Democrats to damage the GOP. Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana even suggested that Democrats manipulated Gaetz into doing their bidding. “I can’t believe he’s that so stupid, to be used, to be manipulated by AOC and others to create this outcome,” he said.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito of New York described Gaetz’s actions as “one of the greatest acts of heresy.” He accused the Floridian of destabilizing Congress and the GOP for “Twitter feeds and raising money.”