US House ousts Kevin McCarthy as leader in historic vote

The US House of Representatives, for the first time in history, voted on Tuesday to remove its speaker, Kevin McCarthy, from office.

By a vote of 216-210, the House voted to remove the Republican leader.

Three days ago Republican infighting took Washington to the brink of a partial government shutdown.

Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, 41, and other far-right Republicans are angered that McCarthy relied on Democratic votes to pass a temporary funding extension on Saturday that headed off the shutdown.

US congressman Matt Gaetz speaks on the floor of the US House of Representatives in favour of his motion to vacate the chair of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and ending McCarthy’s continued leadership as Republican Speaker of the House. Photo: US House of Representatives/C-Span via Reuters

A faction of about 20 Republicans, Gaetz included, had forced McCarthy’s hand by repeatedly blocking other legislation.

Gaetz was one of more than a dozen Republicans who repeatedly voted against McCarthy’s bid for speaker in January. McCarthy ultimately secured the gavel after 15 rounds of voting.

Gaetz allies said they were frustrated by the slow pace of spending legislation on McCarthy’s watch.

‘I’m glad that it’s over’: McCarthy elected US House speaker in 15th vote

But over the past few days, other Republicans have said Gaetz was motivated by a hunger for publicity, a chance to win higher office, or resentment over an ongoing ethics probe into possible sexual misconduct and illicit drug use.

“It seems very personal with Matt. It doesn’t look like he’s looking out for the country or the institution,” McCarthy said.

Gaetz has denied wrongdoing and said he is not motivated by a dislike of McCarthy.

More to follow …

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