A small group of right-wing representatives in Congress has managed to throw out their own house speaker, Kevin McCarthy. A motion for him to “vacate to chair” was won 216 to 210. That’s never happened before.
The trigger for McCarthy’s removal was disgruntlement that he had struck a spending deal with President Joe Biden in order to avoid a US government shutdown. The deeper cause is that a number of Republicans, chiefly Florida representative Matt Gaetz, who led the vote, have long disliked and distrusted McCarthy, whom they regard a classic Washington “swamp” creature.
McCarthy’s election as speaker was a shambolic affair. He only captured the gavel after two grueling days of fifteen votes, and fierce resistance from the same conservatives who just managed to eject him.
McCarthy’s election as speaker was a shambolic affair
“My father always told me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” McCarthy said after that exhausting victory. But now he’s finished — and in fact his speakership was crippled from the start. He always appeared to be appeasing one faction or another.
Representative Patrick McHenry, the chair of the Financial Services Committee, has been named speaker pro tempore until a new leader is elected.
Majority Whip Tom Emmer has said he will not stand and suggested that Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise would make a “great speaker.” Scalise, who was shot and nearly killed by a fanatic in 2017 and recently has been suffering from cancer, is House majority leader and now favorite to be speaker — a role Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — the man who keeps freezing in public — calls “thankless.” It’s a gift to the Democratic Party, of course, who after helping to eject McCarthy can now pose as the party of grown-ups who are willing to work across the aisle in contrast with the fractious GOP.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that President Biden “hopes the House will quickly elect a speaker… He looks forward to working together with them.”
And then there’s President Trump, still the king of this fractious party. On his Truth Social site yesterday, he said: “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 — the unity figure? The funniest thing about that is it might be true. As he barrels towards the Republican nomination in next year’s presidential election, there is a growing sense that only he has popular support and power base to fix the Republican mess.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.