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A Matter of Perspectives on the McCarthy Ouster – Lesson

Chaos rules the US House.

The House of Representatives voted October 3 to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the position of Speaker of the House. The vote was close – 216-210. Every Democrat voted to vacate, and eight Republicans joined them. It’s worth looking now at the individual perspectives of those involved.

McCarthy Not Bowed

In a Q and A session with reporters after the vote, McCarthy showed some irritation toward Republican lawmaker Matt Gaetz (FL) who was the mastermind behind this ousting. McCarthy said of him and his seven colleagues:

“They don’t get to say they’re conservative because they’re angry and they’re chaotic. That’s not the party … They are not conservatives, and they do not have the right to have the title.”

But fellow Republicans were not the only ones whom McCarthy blamed. He said of House Democrats that “They played so many politics.”

The Republicans

While speaking with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham after the vote, Rep. Gaetz argued that the House should get on with electing a new speaker and that the “yellow brick road of working with Democrats was paved by Kevin McCarthy.”

GettyImages-1990372278 Patrick McHenry

Patrick McHenry (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry (R) has assumed the role of House speaker pro tempore and will oversee the election of a new leader. He was appointed to this temporary position due to a little-known rule that allows the speaker to provide a list of “alternates” to step in if needed; McHenry was top of that list. Two of his first official acts in his temporary role were to tell Pelosi to leave her plush offices and to send lawmakers home for a week.

The Motion to Vacate was brought by Gaetz in response to a 45-day stopgap measure that passed in the House on September 29 in place of a full year of funding for the federal government. Gaetz argued that this was carried thanks to Democrats, whom the measure benefited – a suggestion bolstered by the fact that 91 Republicans voted against it, and seven did not vote. All but three Democrats voted for it.

The most prominent name being floated for replacement speaker is House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a man widely respected by much of his party, and, most importantly, also a leader who is considered acceptable by the eight Republicans who voted to ditch McCarthy.

The Democrat Caucus

Before the vote happened, Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA) released a memo in which she “urged” members to vote “yes” on vacating McCarthy’s position. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has a somewhat unique take on the situation. In a post on X (formerly called Twitter) following the vote, he posted this:

“House Democrats will continue to put people over politics and work together in a bipartisan way to make life better for everyday Americans.

“It is our hope that traditional Republicans will walk away from MAGA extremism and join us in partnership for the good of the country.”

Who are the MAGA extremists he refers to, and are they the same people he only a moment ago rallied his party to vote with? Also, didn’t he just have an opportunity to join the “traditional Republicans” in “partnership” – and instead chose to side with those very people he – in the same sentence – denounced as guilty of “MAGA extremism”?

Historic and unprecedented the removal of the House speaker may be, but there are very few moments that have ever truly promised such a change in politics.

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