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McCarthy's ouster as speaker fuels uncertainty as renewed shutdown threat looms

Eight Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., joined with Democrats to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as speaker of the House in a historic first that creates a leadership void in the chamber.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as speaker, throwing the chamber into disarray and fueling uncertainty over Congress’ ability to conduct business while the leadership void persists and a renewed showdown over government funding looms next month.

McCarthy was removed from his role as speaker through a motion to vacate introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., in what was the first time in history a speaker has been booted from the top job through a floor vote. The motion passed with a narrow 216 to 210 margin, with Gaetz and seven other Republican lawmakers joining all 208 Democrats in attendance in voting to remove McCarthy from the speakership.

Until the House elects a new speaker, floor business is expected to grind to a halt, with the chamber unable to consider bills on the floor — although committees can still function per usual. This comes days after Congress avoided a government shutdown by approving a short-term stopgap funding bill that gives lawmakers until the Friday before Thanksgiving to either approve funding through the rest of the fiscal year or act on another stopgap.

HOUSE VOTES TO REMOVE KEVIN MCCARTHY AS SPEAKER IN HISTORIC FIRST

In the meantime, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., is serving as the acting speaker pro tempore due to House rules that required now-former Speaker McCarthy to provide a secret list of potential successors in the event that the speakership became vacant. McHenry was first elected to the House in 2004 and is currently the chair of the House Financial Services Committee.

Republicans have indicated that they are likely to hold a forum for prospective speaker candidates next Tuesday, with a potential election for speaker the following day. 

It’s unclear which members of the GOP conference plan to pursue the speakership and Gaetz, the leader of the group that ousted McCarthy, has said he has no interest in the role. McCarthy, who needed to go through 15 ballots to secure enough GOP support to be elected speaker earlier this year, has indicated he won’t run for speaker again.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS CELEBRATE REPUBLICAN CHAOS AFTER HELPING GOP REBELS OUST SPEAKER MCCARTHY

Over the weekend, Congress approved a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for 45 days through Nov. 17 and prevent a shutdown from beginning Sunday. The measure passed both chambers with the bipartisan support needed to clear not only the House but the Democrat-controlled Senate and be signed into law by President Biden — a dynamic that exacerbated tensions in the Republican ranks.

The continuing resolution reopened a rift in the GOP conference that threatened to undermine their majority, as Republicans hold 221 seats to the Democrats' 212 and can only withstand four defections. As the House dealt with thorny issues like raising the debt limit and keeping the government funded on a bipartisan basis, rebellious Republicans fumed over McCarthy working with Democrats to keep the government funded.

GAETZ TORCHES MCCARTHY AFTER SUCCESSFUL OUSTER: ‘YELLOW BRICK ROAD’ OF WORKING WITH DEMS BEGINS WITH KEVIN

The slim majority was in the spotlight earlier this year when Congress forged a bipartisan deal to raise the U.S. debt limit and keep the government from defaulting on its obligations by passing the Fiscal Responsibility Act

The bill established budget caps estimated to shrink deficits by $1.5 trillion in exchange for raising the debt limit until January 2025. It cleared the House on a 314-117 vote, with 149 GOP members in favor and 71 opposed.

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This weekend’s 45-day CR passed the House on votes of 335-91, with the Republican conference divided as 126 members voted in favor and 90 were opposed. 

The eight GOP hardliners who voted to oust McCarthy opposed both the CR and the debt limit-raising Fiscal Responsibility Act. They include Gaetz, along with Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Tim Burchett, R-Tenn.; Ken Buck, R-Colo.; Eli Crane, R-Ariz.; Bob Good, R-Va.; Nancy Mace, R-S.C.; and Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.

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