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The House of Representatives Has Lost its Voice; How Do They Get it Back?

Rep. Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Kevin McCarthy

The House of Representatives is usually seen as a place of decorum and imperative decision-making; however, the actions taken on October 3, looked more like scenes from a political drama. Republican Kevin McCarthy was removed from his position as Speaker of the House. His withdrawal from this role shocked Americans, not only because it was the first time a speaker had been removed in history but also because the ousting was led by members of his own party. 

Matt Gaetz, a conservative representative from Florida led this uprising, as he, along with seven other Republicans and all 208 House Democrats, voted to remove McCarthy. Gaetz’s decision to usurp McCarthy was caused by his disapproval of the speaker’s support for a stop-gap funding measure called a continuing resolution, a bill passed in order to delay the soon impending government shutdown 45 days. It does so by extending the deadline by which Congress needs to pass the bills that set the spending amounts for different government branches. Gaetz, who is not in favor of increased government spending, warned that if McCarthy worked with Democrats to stop the stop-gap funding measure, he would call for his removal as speaker. Suspicion also played a role in this removal, as representatives, including Gaetz, believed McCarthy was involved in a possible side deal with the Biden administration to provide additional aid to Ukraine. This possible secretive deal was frustrating for many Republicans, including Gaetz, as they are not in favor of granting Ukraine increased funds and supplies, and disapprove of the speaker’s potential quiet agenda with America’s democratic president. 

Interestingly, McCarthy somewhat brought about his own demise through significant concessions he made in order to get the 15 conservative votes he was short of in January 2023. McCarthy essentially amended the House rules to allow a single member to make a motion to remove him as speaker. Prior to this change a party caucus or conference needed to come together to call for the removal of the speaker, but because of this alteration, Gaetz was able to do so on his own. Had McCarthy not changed the procedure, Gaetz might not have rallied the necessary support to call for McCarthy’s removal, and he might still be serving as the Speaker of the House. 

Now, the entire House of Representatives has to vote on a new speaker, with a majority of members, precisely 217, needing to vote for one candidate in order for them to secure the position. The Grand Old Party (GOP) had nominated Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana for the next speaker of the house. However, two days after he secured the nomination, Scalise dropped out of the race, leaving Jim Jordan of Ohio as the Republican’s new candidate for speaker. The Democrats have nominated a minority leader Hakeem Jeffries from New York to be the new speaker. So far, no candidate has received the votes they need to take over one of the most powerful positions in Congress, and it is unclear when one will. 

Without a Speaker of the House, one of America’s largest legislatures will not be functioning properly. While there is an interim speaker, Republican Patrick McHenry from North Carolina, his current position is symbolic and does not come with much power. The expelling of McCarthy has caused confusion and uncertainty across the nation, and it is unclear what the ramifications of this vacancy will truly be. 

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About the Contributor
Leah Cororve
Leah Cororve, Associate Editor
Leah Cororve is a senior at the Emery/Weiner School, and this is her second year writing for The 9825, and her first year serving as Associate Editor. Leah greatly enjoys being on the Emery cheer team and loves the time she spends as a part of the Jewish Life Committee (JLC) where she serves as President and Tikkun Olam Club (TKO) of which she is the communications officer. Outside of school Leah commits much of her time to dancing and loves spending time with her friends.

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