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.
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.
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