For the first time in United States history, the House of Representatives has passed a motion to vacate the gavel Tuesday, Oct. 3, ousting Representative Kevin McCarthy from his seat as the Speaker of the House. With the gavel seat empty, the House is in a state of turmoil as there is no obvious successor to the position, causing action in the House to be halted until a new Speaker is elected.
The motion was initiated by Republican Representative of Florida, Matt Gaetz following McCarthy’s compromise with Democrats to continue government funding through Nov. 17, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown hours before the government’s fiscal year officially ended. For months, the U.S. Republican party has been locked in a Civil War, though it has since escalated to the point of halting some congressional movements as Republicans fight amongst themselves as well as Democrats, causing the already uncertain political climate to become even more hazy.
Eight Republicans voted to oust McCarthy: Tennessee Representative Tim Burchett, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, Arizona Representatives Andy Briggs and Eli Crane, Colorado Representative Ken Buck, Virginia Representative Bob Good, South Carolina Representative Nancy Mace, and Montana Representative Matt Rosendale. In the end, the vote to oust McCarthy from the gavel ended in a vote of 216-210. 208 Democrats and eight Republicans voted to oust McCarthy, while zero Democrats and 210 Republicans voted for McCarthy to remain as Speaker of the House. However, four Democrats and three Republicans chose not to vote.
Shortly after McCarthy was officially removed from office, North Carolina Representative Patrick McHenry – a top McCarthy supporter – took the seat of the gavel, temporarily presiding as Speaker of the House until a new speaker is chosen. This will be done when Democrats and Republicans select a nominee for their respective parties, and then a vote will be initiated in an attempt to elect a new Speaker of the House. Nominees for the gavel do not have to be an elected official of congress, as the Constitution does not explicitly state that a nominee must be an elected official.