Shutdown Fears Overshadow Ousting Of McCarthy

The House of Representatives voted to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as speaker on Tuesday, plunging the chamber into turmoil and raising worries about Congress’s ability to function while the leadership gap remains and a new government funding battle looms next month.

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s motion to vacate caused the first House vote to remove a speaker.

Gaetz, seven other Republicans, and all 208 Democrats voted 216 to 210 to oust McCarthy as speaker.

House action would likely stall without a new speaker, but committees can continue. Thus, the government will remain open until the Friday before Thanksgiving, giving Congress time to pass a permanent or temporary funding measure.

After Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivered a secret list of potential replacements to the House leadership, Acting Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina, was appointed. McHenry has chaired the House Financial Services Committee since 2004.

After a Tuesday candidate session, Republicans may have speaker votes on Wednesday.

Gaetz, the party leader who toppled McCarthy, declined to run for speaker, leaving it unclear who would.

Speaker McCarthy, elected by the Republican Party with 15 votes earlier this year, will not run for reelection.

A CR was passed over the weekend to avoid a Sunday shutdown. This CR keeps the government open for 45 days until November 17. Republicans’ support soared after the bill’s unanimous House and Senate Democratic ratification and President Biden’s signature.

Since the Republicans have 221 seats to the Democrats’ 212 and can only lose four, the GOP conference was split over the continuing resolution, which might have threatened their majority.

Several House Republicans revolting against McCarthy’s leadership were furious with his discussions with Democrats to fund the government and lift the debt ceiling.

The bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act lifted the U.S. debt limit and prevented a default in January.

Spending limitations in the debt ceiling extension proposal through January 2025 could reduce deficits by $1.5 trillion. The final House vote was 314-117, with 149 Republicans voting yes and 71 no.

A 45-day CR was passed by the House 335-91 over the weekend—the Republican conference split, with 126 in favor and 90 against.