‘He can’t be trusted’: Lawmakers react to removal of Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House

BOSTON — Lawmakers offered strong reaction on Tuesday after, for the first time in U.S. history, the speaker of the House of Representatives was removed from his position.

By a 216-210 vote, the House voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., was named interim speaker. McHenry is in the position under a law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks in the event of a vacancy in the office, according to The New York Times.

Democratic Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts in a statement called McCarthy “unworthy of presiding over the House.”

“This is a solemn day in the U.S. House of Representatives. Through his duplicitous misuse of power, profound disregard for the needs of the American people, and disloyalty to anyone but himself, Kevin McCarthy has proven unworthy of presiding over the House,” Clark said, adding that “Hakeem Jeffries is the only person in command of this Chamber, and House Democrats will be proud to cast yet another vote to put him in the Speaker’s chair.”

Rep. Seth Moulton, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said he voted to remove McCarthy.

“I voted to remove the Speaker because he can’t be trusted. This is what happens when you sell your soul to the most extreme members of your caucus. Democrats bailed him out of a GOP-manufactured crisis once, we weren’t going to bail him out again,” said Moulton, a Democrat, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Shortly after the vote to oust McCarthy, Massachusetts 3rd Congressional District Rep. Lori Trahan, in a social media post, called McCarthy a “weak Speaker.”

“From day one, Kevin McCarthy has put his ambition ahead of the American people and his job before the institution. He was a weak Speaker, and his inability to lead has ground the People’s House to a halt. Hardworking families deserve better,” Trahan, a Democrat, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

It marks only the second time that such a vote has officially come to the House floor. The first came in 1910 and involved Speaker Joe Cannon. The man known as “Uncle Joe” held on to his gavel but his power was diminished.

Republicans voting to remove McCarthy, R-Calif., included Matt Gaetz of Florida, Eli Crane of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Bob Good of Virginia, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Matt Rosendale of Montana.

Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat, said prior to the vote that he would vote yes to oust McCarthy.

“Kevin McCarthy constantly opposes bipartisanship & shows he is untrustworthy,” McGovern said. “He handed over his gavel to MAGA extremists, creating chaos in Congress & dysfunction that hurts our country. I’m not going to bail him out of this GOP civil war. I’ll vote yes on the motion to vacate.”

Amy Carnevale, chairperson of the Republican Party in Massachusetts, said in a statement, “Today’s vote is further evidence of the polarization of politics. This Congress is broken and we need more elected leaders who will put the people first.”

Tuesday’s vote followed debate by members of both parties and followed a failed attempt by McCarthy’s allies to table the vote, The Washington Post reported.

The previous House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was not present for the vote, as she was traveling to California to attend the funeral of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

In a 218-208 vote, the motion to table failed, with 11 Republicans joining all Democrats present in defeating the resolution.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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