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House votes to oust McCarthy as speaker, first time in U.S. history

House Democrats joined 8 Republicans in voting for Rep. Matt Gaetz's motion to remove McCarthy

Published: October 3, 2023 2:19pm

Updated: October 3, 2023 5:26pm

The GOP-led House on Tuesday voted in favor of removing Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy as House speaker, marking the first time in U.S. history the leader of the chamber has been removed in such a process.

The unofficial vote tally was 216-210.

"The office of speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant," Arkansas GOP Rep. Steve Womack, who was presiding over the proceedings, said after the vote. 

The effort to oust McCarthy was led by Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, who on Monday night filed procedural paperwork known as a "Motion to Vacate."

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is now serving as speaker pro tempore. 

McCarthy, a California Republican, early Tuesday morning allow the vote, considerably before the two-day deadline.

The motion to vacate is an up or down vote of yea, nay or present.

All Democrats voted in favor of removing McCarthy along with seven conservative Republicans.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), regarded as a moderate Republican from a purple district, also voted to remove.

Former Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among those who did not vote.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) made the motion to table the effort but it failed. 

Gaetz argued his case from the Democratic side of the House floor. He said he tried to speak from a podium on the other side of the chamber but wasn't able to do so ahead of the debate.

"I think this represents the ripping off of the Band-Aid. That's what we need to do right now," Gaetz said afterward, arguing the dysfunction of the House has been going on before McCarthy became speaker in January.

On the House floor, during a roughly 30-minute debate before the vote, Gaetz said McCarthy did not follow through on putting up 12 "single subject" appropriations bills on the floor for votes.

He argued that the way to curb wasteful spending and get the debt under control was to pass 12 separate bills funding federal departments. Gaetz hasn't said who he supports for speaker instead of McCarthy. 

Other Republicans supporting McCarthy said the 45-day continuing resolution that passed over the weekend to avoid a shutdown gives the House time to pass the rest of the appropriations bills. They also noted that the Democrats currently run the Senate and the White House.

Ahead of the vote, conservatives Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) said he planned to vote against the motion to vacate the chair. Conservative Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) wrote on X that he would vote in favor of the motion.

Former President Trump weighed in on the drama that was unfolded on the House floor.

"Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our Country?" Trump wrote Tuesday on Truth Social with the voting underway.

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