The US House of Representatives is in turmoil after Kevin McCarthy, the Republican speaker, was removed from his position by a rebellious faction within his own party.
McCarthy, who had been speaker since January 2023, lost a vote of no confidence on Tuesday, October 5, 2023, after he agreed to a deal with Democrats to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.
The move was seen as a betrayal by some hardline conservatives, who accused McCarthy of surrendering to President Joe Biden’s agenda and demanded a more confrontational approach.
The vote was 216-210, with all Democrats and eight Republicans voting to oust McCarthy. He said he would not run for speaker again and did not rule out resigning from Congress.
The House is now leaderless, as Republicans scramble to find a new speaker who can unite the party and navigate the divided government. Two candidates have emerged so far: Jim Jordan, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, and Steve Scalise, the House majority leader and a more moderate figure.
The speaker election is expected to take place on October 11, 2023, after a week-long recess. Until then, Patrick McHenry will serve as the acting speaker.
The speaker debacle has plunged US politics into uncertainty, as Congress faces several looming deadlines on crucial issues such as the budget, debt ceiling, infrastructure, social spending and Ukraine aid.
Analysts warn that the next speaker will face immense pressure from both sides of the aisle and will have to balance the demands of the Republican base with the realities of governing.
Some fear that the power vacuum and the internal strife could lead to more gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, undermining the confidence of investors, allies and the public in the US leadership.