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The position second in line for the presidency is now vacant after Congress voted 216-210 to vacate California Republican Kevin McCarthy from Speaker of the House. McCarthy is the first Speaker to lose his position by a vote in U.S. history.
Far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., promised revenge on Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for avoiding a government shutdown and making a deal with Democrats to pass a short-term budget.
Gaetz filed a motion to remove McCarthy from the Speaker position Monday night. On Tuesday afternoon, eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting on the motion to vacate McCarthy.
It leaves the position temporarily open with just 45 days before the deadline to vote on a budget.
“Kevin McCarthy is a creature of the swamp. He has risen to power by collecting special interest money and redistributing that money in exchange for favors. We are breaking the fever now,” Gaetz told reporters after the vote.
Historic beginning and historic ending for Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy
Even though Republicans retook control of the House of Representatives in January, it took 15 votes for McCarthy to take the leadership position. Far-right members of the party forced him to agree to their demands on policy priorities to receive their votes.
One of those demands from Rep. Gaetz included the ability to require just one person to bring a vote to vacate the Speaker to the House floor.
Cheryl Johnson, the second Black American to serve as Clerk of the House, temporarily became the highest rank member of the House during the 15-vote fiasco, which left the government with a Speaker-less House.
Speaker McCarthy, despite losing his leadership role, takes his place among a long list of notable past figures.
In 1787, after the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, Pennsylvania minister Frederick Muhlenberg became the first-ever Speaker of the House, according to archives from the University of Pennsylvania. He served as Speaker from 1789 to 1789.
McCarthy’s time as Speaker was one of the shortest in U.S. history.
A man named Theodore Pomeroy holds the record for shortest time serving in that role.
In 1869, House Speaker Rep. Schuyler Colfax (R-Ind.) resigned to be sworn in as President Ulysses S. Grant’s vice president. On the final day of the 40th Congress, Colfax chose Pomeroy as his replacement. He served for just one day.
Meanwhile, Republicans remain in control of Congress. The next move will be for them to choose a replacement. Ultimately, Congress has just weeks before the next deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
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