Public Service

Ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said he’d never quit, decides to quit Congress

For­mer Speak­er Kevin McCarthy has decid­ed to quit the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives before the end of his cur­rent term, despite pre­vi­ous­ly hav­ing vowed to nev­er quit. McCarthy revealed his plans today in a guest essay pub­lished in The Wall Street Jour­nal. Like John Boehn­er, he has decid­ed not to stick around and will instead pur­sue oth­er endeav­ors, though he did­n’t say what those are.

“I have decid­ed to depart the House at the end of this year to serve Amer­i­ca in new ways. I know my work is only get­ting start­ed,” McCarthy wrote.

” I nev­er could have imag­ined the jour­ney when I first threw my hat into the ring. I go know­ing I left it all on the field — as always, with a smile on my face,” he added. “And look­ing back, I wouldn’t have had it any oth­er way.”

His essay invoked Ronald Rea­gan’s name, but did not men­tion Don­ald Trump’s.

After the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion, McCarthy threw his lot in with Trump, even mak­ing a pil­grim­age to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring.

But when it count­ed for McCarthy, that feal­ty was not rewarded.

Trump did not inter­vene to ensure that McCarthy would be elect­ed Speak­er on terms that would enable him to stay in pow­er, such as requir­ing a tra­di­tion­al thresh­old for a motion to vacate the chair. And Trump did not lift a fin­ger to help McCarthy after Matt Gaetz brought such a motion around nine months lat­er.

As report­ed by The Wash­ing­ton Post:

Dur­ing a phone call with McCarthy weeks after his his­toric Oct. 3 removal as House speak­er, Trump detailed the rea­sons he had declined to ask Rep. Matt Gaetz (R‑Fla.) and oth­er hard-right law­mak­ers to back off their cam­paign to oust the Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can from his lead­er­ship posi­tion, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the exchange who, like oth­ers, spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­close a pri­vate conversation.

Dur­ing the call, Trump lam­bast­ed McCarthy for not expung­ing his two impeach­ments and not endors­ing him in the 2024 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the conversation.

McCarthy is said to have respond­ed with an expletive.

And although he claims to be leav­ing with a smile on his face, it’s an open secret that McCarthy holds grudges and has been obsessed with try­ing to pun­ish those who were involved in his down­fall, espe­cial­ly Gaetz and Nan­cy Mace:

Since his ouster, he has tak­en a no-holds-barred approach to the peo­ple who facil­i­tat­ed his removal from lead­er­ship, unload­ing on indi­vid­ual law­mak­ers in pub­lic inter­views. McCarthy and his allies have at times used their pow­er and deep cof­fers to weed out Repub­li­can incum­bents who caused headaches in Wash­ing­ton, or were mis­aligned with McCarthy’s interests.

This month, McCarthy said in an inter­view with CNN that Gaetz should face con­se­quences for his actions and pre­dict­ed that Rep. Nan­cy Mace (R‑S.C.), one of the eight law­mak­ers who joined Gaetz, would lose reelec­tion for her “flip-flop­ping.”

Good rid­dance appears to be the preva­lent sen­ti­ment from Democ­rats upon hear­ing the news that McCarthy will be resign­ing from Congress.

“In his short time as speak­er, Kevin McCarthy man­aged to plunge the People’s House into chaos in the name of serv­ing one per­son and one per­son alone: Don­ald Trump. At every turn, Kevin sought to give his pup­pet mas­ter a life­line, even after the hor­rif­ic events of Jan­u­ary 6th, and spent his embar­rass­ing speak­er­ship bend­ing the knee to the most extreme fac­tions of the MAGA base,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee Chair Jaime Harrison.

“This anti­cli­mac­tic end to Kevin’s polit­i­cal career is in line with the rest of his time on Capi­tol Hill – plagued by cow­ardice, incom­pe­tence, and feck­less­ness. Our coun­try will be bet­ter off with­out Kevin in office, but his failed tenure in the House should serve as a stark warn­ing to the coun­try about the future of the [Repub­li­can Par­ty] – no mat­ter how much he kow­towed to the extreme right, no mat­ter how much he kissed the ring, none of it was MAGA enough for the de fac­to leader of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, Don­ald Trump.”

Vacan­cies in the House can­not be filled by appoint­ment, so there will have to be a spe­cial elec­tion to choose a suc­ces­sor to McCarthy.

McCarthy cur­rent­ly rep­re­sents what is con­sid­ered a safe Repub­li­can dis­trict in the Bak­ers­field, Cal­i­for­nia area. Democ­rats will have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pick it up, but it will be very tough to win. How­ev­er, even if the seat remains in Repub­li­can hands, the new mem­ber will not have the senior­i­ty and clout in Con­gress that McCarthy did dur­ing his chaot­ic time atop the House Repub­li­can caucus.

McCarthy’s pre­de­ces­sor, fel­low Cal­i­forn­ian Nan­cy Pelosi, has cho­sen to remain in Con­gress and is referred to by oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers as Speak­er Emer­i­tus, a title we’re unlike­ly to hear bestowed upon McCarthy even by fel­low Republicans.

Andrew Villeneuve

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