Today, the United States House of Representatives took a historic and unprecedented vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, making him the first Speaker ever to be voted out of office.
The vote came on the heels of the most recent series of revelations regarding McCarthy’s behavior and his role in secretly using taxpayer-funded call centers to influence elections. In addition, numerous allegations of misconduct involving other members of the House Republican Conference had been swirling around Capitol Hill for weeks.
The dramatic 45-to-204 vote on the House floor is a clear reflection of the depth of dissatisfaction with McCarthy’s leadership. Shortly after the vote was taken, a motion of censure was passed unanimously against McCarthy with the intention of sending a strong message to all elected officials.
McCarthy’s removal is a stunning turn of events for the once powerful political leader, who had served as speaker for four years and had long been seen as the leader of the conservative movement. He was heavily backed by President Donald Trump, with whom he had a close relationship.
McCarthy had also maintained a firm grip on power, as he worked to keep other Republicans in line and often clashed with the more moderate members of the congressional caucus. However, a number of his decisions in office—such as trying to censure Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee—met with widespread criticism.
This latest move further exacerbates the deep divisions within the Republican Party, and sets up the possibility of a leadership struggle within the caucus. It also could potentially lead to a shake-up in the Congressional GOP leadership.
With his exit as speaker, McCarthy now faces significant consequences both professionally and personally and his political career could be at an end. His departure from the House could also trigger a power struggle among the remaining leadership.
The result of the vote almost certainly sends a tough message to all elected officials that misconduct and misbehavior will not be tolerated.