Washington, Oct 3 (EFE).- Republican Kevin McCarthy said on Tuesday that he would not pursue another term as House Speaker after his removal plunged the chamber into a state of uncertainty.
“I will not run for speaker again,” McCarthy told reporters after eight of his Republican lawmakers joined Democrats to oust him in a 216 to 210 vote.
“I hope you realize that every day I did the job, regardless whether you underestimated me or not, I wanted to do it with a smile,” said the California Republican. “I always like to take a risk.”
Earlier, McCarthy became the first US House speaker to lose the gavel in a vote, with fellow Republican Matt Gaetz, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, leading the charge to depose him.
Gaetz gained support from the Democratic caucus and seven Republicans to secure the ouster motion’s passage.
McCarthy suggested that he might endorse the new Republican candidate to succeed him, although he was uncertain about who would step up.
He accused Gaetz of targeting him for personal reasons and orchestrating the spectacle for attention, saying, “It was all about seeking attention.”
Gaetz, who opposed McCarthy’s leadership from the outset, had been threatening to initiate the removal process for months.
McCarthy emphasized that he took a significant risk for the American public by working to prevent a government shutdown over the weekend.
Over the weekend, McCarthy narrowly averted a government shutdown by supporting spending legislation that extended the government’s budget for 45 days. He defended his collaboration with Democrats, asserting that he always prioritized the nation’s welfare over personal interests.
Losing his position for doing what he believed was right did not bother him, he said. “I may have lost this vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber I feel fortunate to have served. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
McCarthy’s leadership had been fragile from the start, with his opponents accusing him of yielding to Democratic pressures and not advocating strongly enough for spending cuts.
The vacancy in House leadership is a culmination of the internal divisions within his party, especially between Trump supporters and others.
Gaetz is a member of the Freedom Caucus, the Republican faction sympathetic to Trump.
To initiate the motion, only one lawmaker, whether Democrat or Republican, needed to bring it up, and it required a simple majority to pass. With two vacancies in the 435-member House (212 Democrats and 221 Republicans), the threshold was reduced to 217.
President Joe Biden expressed hopes that “the House will quickly elect a Speaker” since “the urgent challenges facing our nation will not wait.”
“The American people deserve leadership that puts the issues affecting their lives front and center,” a White House statement said.
“Once the House has met their responsibility to elect a Speaker, he looks forward to working together with them and with the Senate to address the American peoples’ priorities.”
The timing is crucial, given the ongoing negotiations for the fiscal year 2024 budgets. Also in limbo is US aid to Ukraine, which was excluded from the 45-day public financing extension and is slated for consideration in a separate bill.
Only two other House Speakers have faced ouster motions, both unsuccessfully: Republicans Joseph Cannon in 1910 and John Boehner in 2015. In Boehner’s case, the motion introduction eventually led to his resignation months later.