In a historic vote, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy was ousted from his leadership position Tuesday by a small group of radical members of his own party led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.
The Republican conference has been plagued with dysfunction for a while now — but the vote was a stunning display of just how broken and dysfunctional the system has become. In the past, other House speakers have been pushed out and Republican Speaker John Boehner retired while facing the threat of being ousted. But this is the first time a sitting speaker was removed by a vote. Gaetz exercised a little-known procedure that had not been used in more than 100 years to push a vote to vacate the speaker’s chair. When it was over, eight Republicans and every Democrat had voted to remove McCarthy.
Under procedures established after 9/11 to ensure the continuity of government, an acting speaker pro tempore was appointed from a list McCarthy had previously drawn up. Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a McCarthy ally who spoke fiercely in his defense during Tuesday’s debate, will fill the role until a new speaker is elected.