The New Speaker of the House

On October 3rd, 2023, the United States Congress voted to remove Republican Kevin McCarthy from his position as Speaker of the House. This was the first time in U.S. history that the Speaker had been voted off, resulting from a 216-210 vote in favor of removing McCarthy. 

McCarthy graduated from California State University and served in the California State Assembly. He was later elected to Congress in 2008 and then as the House Republican Chief Deputy Whip from 2009 to 2011. From 2011 to 2014, he served as House Majority Whip. He was elected Speaker of the House on January 3rd, 2023. As the newly elected Speaker of the House, McCarthy was now the presiding officer responsible for maintaining order, managing House procedures, and governing all administration business. His tasks included swearing in new members into the House, giving members permission to speak on the House floor, counting and declaring all votes, and appointing members to committees. 

McCarthy has been involved in several controversies leading up to this historic event, which was reflected in the initial voting process to elect a new Speaker. During the vote for Speaker of the House, votes favoring McCarthy fell drastically, in part due to the opposition he faced from several “ultraconservative GOP lawmakers” (Kochi). McCarthy started making closed-door concessions to those opposing him to save his campaign. These concessions were successful, and he could sway many voters to support him. However, McCarthy failed negotiations to leverage reforms and cuts, and many were dissatisfied with McCarthy’s deal, which raised the debt limit on government borrowing. He agreed to an agreement with the Democrats for a 45-day stopgap funding bill, which was the final straw for Matt Gaetz. Gaetz initiated the call for McCarthy’s historic removal. Eight hard-right Republicans, along with 208 Democrats, pushed alongside Gaetz for McCarthy’s removal. Democrats felt it was time to end the chaos that McCarthy brought to the House. Additionally, House members across parties felt that McCarthy’s choice to abandon hard-right ideals to avoid a government shutdown was another example of his tendency to strike unpopular deals to save face. 

Three weeks after Kevin McCarthy’s ousting, Republican Mike Johnson won the Speaker election and became the next Speaker of the House. Johnson was one of the less popular candidates running for the new position. Concerns surrounding Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise, and Tom Emmer, his opponents, helped him forge a successful run and his ultimate election. 

He was sworn into the House of Representatives on December 10th, 2016, and was previously a lawyer. His past choices reflect conservative ideals, well known for his support of Donald Trump and his strong opposition to same-sex marriage. He has been involved in “electoral politics for less than nine years and in Washington for two years less than that” (Canizales). Despite this lack of experience, he was voted in unanimously by the Republican party, although facing opposition from all 209 Democrats. He is now serving as the 56th Speaker of the House, where Republicans and Democrats hope he will serve their interests far better than McCarthy.