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Kevin McCarthy won’t run for speaker again

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Kevin McCarthy won’t run for speaker again

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Washington — Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday he would not run for the leadership position again after he was ousted from the role Tuesday. 

“I may have lost the vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber I feel fortunate to have served the American people,” McCarthy told reporters. “I leave the speakership with a sense of pride, accomplishment and, yes, optimism.” 

House Republicans met Tuesday night to discuss the next steps. It’s unclear who has enough support to win the gavel. 

Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, who was appointed speaker pro tempore, told lawmakers in the meeting that a candidate forum is expected Oct. 10, and a potential vote would be Oct. 11, according to Rep. Bob Good of Virginia. 

In an unprecedented vote removing the speaker, eight Republicans voted with all Democrats to dismiss the California Republican after he had expressed confidence for days that he would remain in the job. The no-confidence vote was brought by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida following McCarthy’s reliance on Democrats to pass funding to avert a government shutdown

“My fear is the institution fell today, because you can’t do the job if eight people,” McCarthy said of the eight detractors. “You have 94% or 96% of your entire conference, but eight people can partner with the whole other side. How do you govern?” 

Gaetz consistently opposed McCarthy’s speakership, and was among those who helped draw out the process of electing him speaker to a record 15 rounds of voting. In order to win over far-right Republicans, McCarthy agreed to a condition making it possible for a single member to motion to oust the speaker. That deal has come back to haunt him. 

“You know it was personal. It had nothing to do about spending…Everything he accused somebody of, he was doing. It all was about getting attention from you,” McCarthy told reporters of Gaetz’s motivations. “I mean, we’re getting email fundraisers from him as he’s doing it — ‘Join in quickly.’ That’s not governing. That’s not becoming of a member of Congress.” 

McCarthy said his advice to the next speaker is to “change the rules.” 

“I do not think, regardless of who the speaker is, that you should have that rule,” McCarthy said. 

McCarthy recalled that he gave in on the threshold at the advice of Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, who was speaker before him. 

“I told her I was having issues getting enough votes,” McCarthy said. “…She said, ‘Just give it to them.'” 

After McCarthy was ousted, Gaetz told reporters that he would require the future speaker to keep the one-person threshold to bring a motion to vacate. 

He floated House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana to be the next speaker, telling reporters he would make a “phenomenal speaker.”

“The best way to advance the conservative agenda is to move forward with a new speaker,” he said. 

On potential McCarthy replacements, Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia said, “I don’t know who would want the job, to be honest with you.”

McCarthy also gave notice to his eight detractors that he might support primary challengers, noting that he declined to get involved in primaries when he was speaker. 

“I told the conference I’m a free agent now,” he said. “I think I’m pretty good at electing people.” 

— Jack Turman contributed reporting. 



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