Republicans, who hold a thin majority, appointed U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina as speaker pro tem and then recessed. At a closed-door meeting Tuesday night, McCarthy told members he would not seek the position again, and it was unclear who could gain the support of enough Republicans to become speaker.
McHenry told Republicans that a candidate forum will be held on Tuesday and a vote on the next speaker would be scheduled for Wednesday morning.
U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick described his feelings after the meeting as “disgust.”
He said many House Republicans in the closed-door meeting said they felt the same way.
”Everybody’s angry,” the Suwannee Republican said. “Everybody’s trying to figure out what to think and what to say and what to do because nobody knows.”
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter of Pooler called it a “sad day” but said he is now contemplating the upcoming discussions on choosing the next House speaker to succeed McCarthy.
”Unfortunately, he’s taking himself out of the running, but I hope he will change his mind,” Carter said. “But if he doesn’t, then certainly I’m going to go in with an open mind.”
The vast majority of Republicans wanted to keep McCarthy as their leader, but Democrats were unwilling to provide the votes to save him from a small but vocal minority of conservative opponents. Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries released a long statement ahead of the vote outlining five reasons why he was encouraging members of his party to support McCarthy’s ouster.
“It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War,” Jeffries wrote. “Given their unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism in an authentic and comprehensive manner, House Democratic leadership will vote yes on the pending Republican Motion to Vacate the Chair.”
The GOP hard-liners are led by Gaetz, who along with the seven other McCarthy critics built a large enough coalition to unseat the speaker because of the thin majority Republicans hold.
During debate on his motion to vacate, Gaetz said that McCarthy has not lived up to promises he made to conservatives and failed to provide strong leadership.
“Chaos is Speaker McCarthy,” Gaetz said. “Chaos is somebody who we cannot trust with their word.”
None of the nine Republicans in Georgia’s delegation joined Gaetz’s crusade, even those who have criticized the appropriations process under McCarthy.
U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde had been considered the most likely to support McCarthy’s ouster, but he made it clear Tuesday morning that he did not believe it was the right course of action.
“I do not intend to support a motion to vacate at this time, as I believe we must be focused on passing the remaining appropriations bills in a fiscally responsible manner,” said Clyde, a Republican who lives outside Athens. “Conservative appropriations bills are currently our best way to address wokeness and weaponization in our government.”
All five Georgia Democrats in the House supported McCarthy’s ouster after receiving communication from their leadership that members of the party should not help save the speaker from the infighting among members of his own party.
Prior to those notices, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop said that he would follow the directives of Jeffries. Bishop said McCarthy’s situation was of his own making after he struck an agreement with the hard-liners who opposed him becoming speaker in January by agreeing to change House rules so that any one person could bring a motion to the floor to remove him as speaker.
“It’s because in the beginning of this Congress, in order to secure the speakership, McCarthy was willing to give up the stability of the House of Representatives in order to have the gavel,” said Bishop, a Democrat from Albany. “Now that he has that gavel, it’s very clear to everyone that we are in great peril.”
Clyde was among that group of about 20 lawmakers who initially blocked McCarthy from becoming speaker, forcing 15 rounds of voting. More recently, Gaetz and some of the others in that group have accused McCarthy of disappointing them in the way he leads, particularly when it comes to the appropriations process.
That came to a head last weekend after McCarthy introduced legislation to temporarily fund the government and avert a shutdown. He did so by dropping his efforts to gain the support of hard-liners and instead putting a bill on the floor that received support from all but one Democrat and was opposed by 90 Republicans.
None of the eight Republican lawmakers who voted to remove McCarthy as speaker backed the stopgap legislation.
Clyde and four others from Georgia voted “no” on the short-term funding bill, but they still backed McCarthy in Tuesday’s vote.
HOW THEY VOTED
On H. Res. 757, removing Kevin McCarthy as U.S. House speaker
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia
U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta
U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler
U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens
U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Jackson
U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-The Rock
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville
U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Suwanee
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton