This is a first in the history of the American Congress: the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, was defeated. ousted Tuesday from his post, victim of fratricidal quarrels within his party.
After a tense debate between conservatives in the chamber, 216 elected officials voted to dismiss him, including eight Republicans, against 210.
Immediately after this unprecedented result, a Kevin McCarthy despite everything smiling was surrounded by members of his party, who hugged him and shook his hand.
The vote opens a period of strong turbulence in the lower house, where a replacement must be chosen next week.
Kevin McCarthy has already announced Tuesday evening that he will not run again, even if parliamentary rules allow it.
“I was the 55th leader of the House, one of the greatest honors. I loved every moment of it,” he said declared during a press conference, while saying he was “optimistic” despite this debacle.
He had already been elected by forceps in January, due to the very slim Republican majority.
To reach the perch, he notably had to make enormous concessions with around twenty Trumpists, including the possibility that any elected official would have the power to call a vote to dismiss him – which Matt Gaetz ultimately did.
– “Contradictory promises” –
“It is in the interest of this country that we have a better speaker than Kevin McCarthy,” said this elected official after the vote of the American hard right who tabled the motion on Monday to dismiss the leader of his party.
Representative Matt Gaetz, elected from Florida, October 2, 2023 in Washington © AFP – SAUL LOEB
“No one trusted (him),” added Mr. Gaetz. “Kevin McCarthy had made many contradictory promises.”
The elected official from Florida mainly criticizes the Republican tenor for having negotiated with elected Democrats a provisional budget to finance the federal administration, which many conservatives opposed. He also accuses him of having concluded a “secret agreement” with President Joe Biden on a possible package for Ukraine.
However, the right wing of the Republican Party is strongly opposed to the release of additional funds for Kiev, believing that this money should instead be used to fight the migration crisis on the border between the United States and Mexico.
< p>And it doesn't matter that the immense majority of Kevin McCarthy's parliamentary group publicly supported it: the Trumpists had a de facto veto in the House given the very slim Republican majority in this institution.
– No Democratic support –
“I do not regret having negotiated. Our government is made to find compromises,” replied Kevin McCarthy.
The 58-year-old Republican seemed to think for a time that he would manage to save his head, hoping that political calculations would prevail and that he could extract support from the Democrats, even very fair ones, in exchange for concessions.
Waste of effort.
“It’s up to the Republican Party to end the Republican civil war in the House,” Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a letter after a long meeting on Tuesday with his parliamentary group.
“The reasons to let the Republicans manage their own problems are innumerable. Let them wallow in the mire of their incompetence and their incapacity to govern,” said progressive elected official Pramila Jayapal, implacably.
A sign of the disagreements that are tearing the Republicans apart, conservative elected officials took turns in the chamber to argue for and against Kevin McCarthy. Tom Cole warned of the “chaos” the House and Republicans would be thrown into if Mr. McCarthy were impeached.
“The chaos is President McCarthy,” replied Matt Gaetz.
– Internal struggles –
These internal struggles exposed in broad daylight made Donald Trump react.
“Why do Republicans spend their time arguing among themselves, why don't they fight the radical left Democrats who are destroying our country”? wrote the former Republican president on his Truth Social platform.
Such a vote had not taken place for more than a century in the United States, and no “speaker” had ever was ousted from his post until Tuesday.
President Joe Biden called in the evening on the elected representatives of the House to quickly elect a new leader, in the face of the “urgent challenges” facing the United States. United.
But the task promises to be complicated for the Republicans, who will meet in a week, next Tuesday, to agree on a new candidate. A vote is expected to take place the next day.
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