WASHINGTON — The historic removal of Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House on Tuesday received mixed reactions from lawmakers and politicians.
McCarthy became the first speaker in the history of the House to be removed, as eight Republicans broke ranks and voted with all Democrats to remove him by a 216-210 vote. The move to vacate the chair was orchestrated by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
“It’s to the benefit of this country that we have a better speaker of the House than Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz told reporters, according to The New York Times. “Kevin McCarthy couldn’t keep his word.”
Gaetz added that McCarthy should not try to regain the speaker’s gavel and said he was not a candidate to replace him.
“Absolutely not,” Gaetz said.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at Georgetown University, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the vote, according to the newspaper.
“Well, let me say that chaos is never America’s friend,” Pence said, adding that he believed that most Republicans in the House would vote to return the gavel to McCarthy.
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said she voted to remove McCarthy because he allegedly broke promises made to her.
“As a fiscal conservative, I’m angry,” Mace said. “As a woman, I’m deeply frustrated.”
One area of disappointment for Mace was her contention that McCarthy had promised to help women gain greater access to birth control after Roe v. Wade was overturned, but failed to do so, the Times reported.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a statement that he hoped some GOP members would join Democrats, the Times reported.
“It is our hope that traditional Republicans will walk away from MAGA extremism and join us in partnership for the good of the country,” he said, calling it a “solemn moment.”
Tom Cole, R-Okla., told CNN there was it was unclear what was going to happen.
“Nobody knows what’s going happen next including all the people that voted to vacate have no earthly idea what they have no plan,” Cole said. “They have no alternative at this point. So it’s just simply a vote for chaos.”
Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Va., called the historic day “truly frustrating for those of us who ran for Congress to get the country back on track,” CNN reported.
“All the good work that we’ve done can be derailed by a small group. It is extremely frustrating,” Kaggans said.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., an ally of McCarthy, said she was unsure who might get enough votes to ascend to the speaker’s chair, The Washington Post reported.
“No one has the support in the conference like Kevin McCarthy does,” Greene told reporters.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said that “a little chaos isn’t such a bad thing,” according to the Times.
“My advice to the people who voted to remove him is own it. Admit it,” he said in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “There was no better plan of action of who’s going to fill that speaker role. So was the point to sow chaos? Yes, it was. But the real question to ask, to get to the bottom of it, is whether chaos is really such a bad thing?”
Another GOP presidential candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, suggested during an interview that Gaetz’s move was sparked by political fundraising, the Times reported.
“I think when you’re doing things, you need to be doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” DeSantis said. “It shouldn’t be done with an eye towards trying to generate lists or trying to generate fund-raising.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, denounced the move to remove McCarthy, saying that the ouster had given voters “more of a concern about our party being a governing party, and that’s bad for all of us running for president right now.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., told Forbes that Gaetz’s overall approach did “a lot of damage.”
“It’s not helpful,” Scott said about the ouster. “It certainly doesn’t help us focus on the issues that everyday voters care about.”
The White House called on Republicans to “quickly elect a Speaker,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
“President Biden has demonstrated that he is always eager to work with both parties in Congress in good faith on behalf of the American people,” Jean-Pierre said. “Because the urgent challenges facing our nation will not wait, he hopes the House will quickly elect a Speaker.
”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 people’s priorities.”
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., one of the eight Republicans to vote to remove McCarthy, told CNN that the speaker had mocked him about “praying” on his decision before casting his ballot.
“That’s what sealed it right there for me,” Burchett told the cable news outlet. “I said, ‘This is not the quality or the character of person that I want as speaker.’”
Burchett added that he could not speculate whether a new speaker would be elected quickly, even as soon as Tuesday night.
“I have no earthly idea, brother,” Burchett told CNN.
During a news conference on Tuesday, McCarthy said he was surprised by Burchett’s comments.
“I personally like Tim Burchett,” McCarthy told reporters. “I simply read his quote back. I thought there was still an opening and I wanted to talk to him about it. He never mentioned anything when we were communicating like that.”