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Republican Kevin McCarthy has been etched into the history books, the first speaker to be driven out after a handful of hard-line conservative rebels joined with Democrats to take the gavel.
Hours after being stripped of his leadership position on Tuesday, McCarthy announced he wouldn't try to return to the top of the House, and he acknowledged how working with Democrats to avert a government shutdown put a target on his back.
"I don’t regret standing up for choosing government over grievance," he said. "It is my responsibility. It is my job."
In many ways, McCarthy's ouster was foreshadowed in January when a razor-thin GOP majority took five days and 15 rounds of votes to elect the California Republican speaker.
McCarthy was able to claw to the speaker's seat by herding right-wing opponents back into his camp after making several behind-the-scenes concessions, including the rule that allowed a single member to call for a vote ousting the speaker.
That ultimately was McCarthy's undoing when he angered a handful of conservatives for negotiating a debt ceiling deal with President Joe Biden and ushering through a 45-day budget extension with the help of Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.
After telling foes to "bring it on," McCarthy was unable to quell the GOP rebels led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, who said grassroots conservatives were fed up with the speaker's dealmaking and failed promises.
"My fear is the institution fell today," McCarthy told reporters.
Here's a look at what happened Tuesday.
House Dems left McCarthy hanging
McCarthy wasn't the only congressional leader tested on Tuesday.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., came out swinging when he explained why his caucus shouldn't come to McCarthy's rescue. In a lengthy letter to members, he cited the GOP's "unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism" as a chief reason.
"It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War," Jeffries wrote.
That's a departure from how the New York lawmaker, who many expect to be speaker should Democrats take back the House in 2024, has wielded the minority in previous fights. In other major impasses this year, such as the debt ceiling vote, Jeffries and other House Democratic leaders said members should vote their conscience.
But in this case, Jeffries spent a good portion of his political capital on helping topple McCarthy, who failed to reach an agreement with House Democratic leaders on a way to save himself by establishing a bipartisan, coalition government.
Gaetz v. GOP
Gaetz, the face of the rebellion, jousted with a series of McCarthy allies in the debate ahead of Tuesday's vote.
The Florida congressman outlined why the speaker has failed based on the agreement made in January, specifically saying McCarthy could not be trusted to fulfill the reforms grassroots conservatives demand.
"I don’t think voting against Speaker McCarthy is chaos. I think $33 trillion in debt is chaos," Gaetz said.
"I think not passing single-subject spending bills is chaos. I think the fact that we have been governed in this country, since the mid-90s, by continuing resolutions and omnibus bills is chaos."
During the debate, McCarthy's supporters heralded his nearly nine-month reign as speaker, calling it one of the most conservative in history. But at a certain point, personal feelings boiled over on the House floor as some GOP lawmakers openly accused Gaetz of being a "RINO" (Republican in name only) working with Democrats, a camera-craving attention-seeker and an opportunist for fundraising off the speaker vote.
"It’s disgusting," said Rep. Garret Graves, R-La.
Gaetz responded by saying he would take "no lecture" from Republican colleagues who take money from lobbyists and have "hollowed out this town."
Gang of Eight: Who were the Republicans who voted against McCarthy?
Eight Republicans lawmakers joined 208 Democrats and voted to eject McCarthy from the speakership, they were:
Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona
Rep. Ken Buck, Colorado
Rep. Tim Burchett, Tennessee
Rep. Eli Crane, Arizona
Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida
Rep. Bob Good, Virginia
Rep. Nancy Mace, South Carolina
Rep. Matt Rosendale, Montana
Trump left McCarthy hanging, too
One person strangely quiet about all of this was Donald Trump, who arguably could have helped McCarthy with the right-wing rebellion.
Trump is busy attending his bank fraud trial in New York − one of the many court cases against him this year − but the 2024 GOP presidential front-runner has found time to pressure Republican members on other issues, such as demanding they pursue the Biden impeachment inquiry to supporting a government shutdown.
In a post on Truth Social, he bemoaned the GOP drama: "Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the Radical left Democrats who are destroying our country?"
Trump made no public appeal to save McCarthy, however, which underscores how much of their relationship has been a one-way street. It is something some conservative commentators notice.
Now what? 'Change the rules,' McCarthy says
Honestly, we've never been here before.
The last time the House voted on a motion to vacate was in 1910 against Speaker Joseph Cannon, R-Ill., who ultimately survived.
In 2015, a similar move was made against Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but he resigned before that idea ever made it to a floor vote.
Now Republicans and Democrats must replay their saga from earlier in the year to choose a new speaker. In the meantime the House is paralyzed, much like it was in January.
The fight is not over.
Now we must elect a Speaker.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 3, 2023
What's also up in the air is who else in the GOP conference wants the job.
Most point to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., as a likely successor. Others say Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, or Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., whose names were tossed out in January, could again emerge as nominees.
If the Republican majority can't figure that out, some may start to wonder whether a speaker with bipartisan support could arise from this mess. That's an unlikely situation, but given how 2023 has unfolded, the speculation will continue.
McCarthy, asked what advice he'd give the next speaker, was blunt: "Change the rules."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: McCarthy removed after 8-month stint as speaker: 5 takeaways.