Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted out of the job Tuesday in an extraordinary showdown, a first in U.S. history, that was forced by a contingent of hard-right conservatives and threw the House and its Republican leadership into chaos.
McCarthy’s chief rival, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, forced the vote on the “motion to vacate,” drawing together more than a handful of conservative Republican critics of the speaker and many Democrats who say he is unworthy of leadership.
It was the first time since 1910 that a vote has been held on whether to remove a Speaker and the only time such a motion has been approved.
McCarthy is now the shortest-serving House Speaker since the year 1876.
Next steps are uncertain, but there is no obvious successor to lead the House Republican majority.
Stillness fell as the presiding officer gaveled the vote closed, 216-210, saying the office of the speaker “is hereby declared vacant.” The Hammer fell at 4:49pm EDT. Here is video of the historic moment:
Moments later, a top McCarthy ally, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., took the gavel and, according to House rules, was named speaker pro tempore, to serve in the office until a new speaker is chosen.
The House then briskly recessed so lawmakers could meet and discuss the path forward.