House Republicans met to discuss options for the election of a new House speaker after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted in an unprecedented vote to vacate the chair. They plan to hold a speaker’s candidate forum on Oct. 10 and proceed with an election in the House on Oct. 11.
At the GOP conference on Oct. 3, Mr. McCarthy announced that he would not seek reelection as speaker.
After the meeting, he wrote on X, “I will not seek to run again for Speaker of the House. I may have lost a vote today, but I fought for what I believe in—and I believe in America. It has been an honor to serve.”
Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) told members he would not work with Democrats on the selection of a speaker, said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) to reporters, meaning that the divided GOP conference would once again be forced to battle it out in the selection of a leader.
Mr. McCarthy had been elected to the speakership in January after a bruising four-day, 15-round contest.
“They’re throwing out some good ideas” about who will be the next speaker, Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) told reporters on leaving the meeting, though neither he nor several other members who spoke with reporters would comment on potential candidates.
In the wake of the vote to vacate the chair, some Republicans vented frustration at their colleagues who voted to oust the speaker.
“We’re back at January 2 right now, and everything else is just hooey,” Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) told reporters, meaning that the claims by the eight Republicans who voted out Mcarthy of wanting to increase border security or cut spending were rendered meaningless by their plunging the House into a chaotic speakership battle.
No business may be conducted on the House floor until a new speaker is elected, according to Mr. Van Orden.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) lamented the treatment of Mr. McCarthy by members of his own caucus and its impact on their ability to govern.
“It’s devastating for our conference. I mean, 98 percent of the conference was with Speaker McCarthy. He’s done a good job. He did not deserve this. It’s a complete injustice,” she told reporters after the Republican huddle.
“Matt Gaetz undermined the entire conference. He undermined the entire institution. And now we can’t do the job that we were elected to do, for the time being, because we don’t have a speaker of the House.”
“There’s some anger there,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told reporters. “We’ll see tomorrow about some sort of path forward … We’ve got to give it a day until things have cooled down.”
Later that evening, Mr. McCarthy expressed no rancor in remarks to the press. “I’m a Republican. I win by Republicans, and I lose by Republicans,” indicating that he accepted the outcome of the vote.
In Search of a Plan
Ahead of the evening conference, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Rules Committee and a McCarthy supporter, said there was no obvious plan for moving forward.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen. The people that voted to vacate have no plan,” Mr. Cole said. “It’s just chaos at this point.”
Indeed, those arguing for the removal of Mr. McCarthy relied on philosophical arguments but presented no practical pathway for improving results.
“I am looking for a speaker who will tell the truth to the American people, who will be honest and trustworthy with Congress—with both parties,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) told reporters moments after the vote. She did not name a candidate for the position.
“We need a speaker, ideally somebody who doesn’t want to be speaker and hasn’t pursued that at all costs for his entire adult life, who will take the moment and do everything possible to fight for the country,” Mr. Gaetz said in the moments leading up to the vote.
Republicans are now pressed to solve their leadership dilemma while working to complete the appropriations process within the 45 days provided by the continuing resolution they passed on Sept. 30.
Rapid Succession of Events
Mr. Gaetz had dangled the possibility of a motion to vacate the chair for several weeks and made good on the threat on Oct. 2.
Mr. McCarthy reacted swiftly, scheduling consideration of the motion for the following afternoon.
During an hour-long debate, Mr. Gaetz alleged that Mr. McCarthy had failed to reform the House’s legislative process as promised, had failed to check the growing national debt, and had worked with Democrats to pass some bills that most Republicans opposed.
Ironically, the motion to oust Mr. McCarthy succeeded only because 208 Democrats joined the eight Republicans who voted to remove the speaker.
The vast majority of the Republican conference, 210 members, opposed the effort, many offering effusive praise for Mr. McCarthy’s effective leadership, which they said had delivered conservative wins in the face of strong opposition from the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House.
Republicans hold a 221 to 212-seat majority, with two seats vacant. With 217 votes required to elect a speaker, the GOP will need near unanimity in its choice. That will require gaining the approval of at least a few of the eight members who voted against Mr. McCarthy.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) placed the House in recess until Oct. 10.
Emel Akan, Joseph Lord, and Ryusuke Abe contributed to this report.