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The U.S. House of Representatives has officially voted on a measure brought forward by Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz to remove Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker.
There are 433 actively serving members of the House — 221 Republicans and 212 Democrats.
The final vote was 216 to 210 as McCarthy has been vacated as the Speaker.
Multiple procedural experts agree that the House would effectively grind to a halt in the event of a speaker vacancy. McCarthy and his staff compiled a list of candidates for an interim speaker at the beginning of the year, but those who are well-versed in House procedures say the interim speaker’s only responsibility will be to preside over the election for speaker.
McCarthy acknowledged the difficulty of his situation before the vote.
When asked if it was likely that five Republicans would vote with the Democrats, McCarthy replied, “Probably so,” meaning that he would resign if that happened. He claimed that he does not anticipate support from Democrats.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries made it clear on social media that Democrats won’t save McCarthy.
BREAKING: The House made history by voting to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his post, setting up another grueling speaker election without a clear successor. https://t.co/DKRxGXWAyP
— Axios (@axios) October 3, 2023
“House Democrats will continue to put people over politics. We are ready to find bipartisan common ground. Our extreme colleagues have shown no willingness to do the same. They must find a way to end the House Republican Civil War,” Jeffries posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Democrats are going to continue to push for people over politics and to fight to make life better for everyday Americans. From the very beginning, that has been our objective. And it will continue to be our sole focus delivering for the American people. We encourage our Republican colleagues who claim to be more traditional to break from the extremists, end the chaos, end the dysfunction, end the extremism,” Jeffries said.
McCarthy said he is not expecting Democrats to bail him out this afternoon.
He said he does not need Democrats to help, but “if five Republicans go with Dems, then I am out.” When pressed on timing and why he would do it today, he fired back, “Why not? I think Matt has planned this all along no matter what transpired.”
“Yes,” McCarthy said when asked if he was calling Gaetz’s bluff.
He was further pressed by CNN, he ruled out any sort of power-sharing agreement with Democrats.
“That doesn’t work. I’m a conservative; I’m a Republican. I’m a conservative who want to get things done. I know we live in our governments designed to have compromise but look we are in the majority. You don’t surrender,” he said.
“At the end of the day, if I have to lose my job over it, so be it,” he said in conclusion, adding that it was the right decision to keep the government open.
McCarthy’s allies and swing district Republicans railed against Gaetz and bluntly warned that the dysfunction could put their majority at risk.
In interviews with CNN, they blasted Gaetz for paralyzing the House of Representatives and pledged to support McCarthy if he loses the speakership due to a lack of votes.
“I think it’s a huge distraction. I think it’s a fool’s errand to be kind of moving in this direction. This country does not need any more drama right now. We just took it to the brink of a shutdown. … I think it’s counterproductive to what the GOP majority should be doing right now,” Rep. Steve Womack said.
Rep. Andy Barr had a similar warning. “I’m telling you it definitely puts the majority in jeopardy when you see disunity,” he said, adding, “That’s why this is so destructive.”
New York Republicans Marc Molinaro and Nick LaLota also piled onto Gaetz.
“I don’t have tolerance for some pseudo-psycho political fetish. Instead, we have to continue to work on behalf of the American people,” Molinaro told CNN. “It’s a total distraction. And once we get past today, we’re going to refocus on reigning in federal spending, border security, and the issues and challenges facing the American people. We’ll get through these next couple of days with Speaker McCarthy at the helm. And we’ll continue to good progress.”
When asked if he has reached out to Democrats, LaLota said no but that he “would expect that a decent number of Democrats would want to maintain decent order in the House and not be a part of this chaos.”