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GOP ‘Political Arsonists’ get their man

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Picture: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/AFP/Taken on January 30, 2023 – Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. McCarthy has been ousted in a historic House vote on Tuesday, the writer says.

“In less than a year, Kevin McCarthy has proven himself to be the weakest House speaker in modern history.” – Democratic Party Representative Bill Pascrell

By Brett Wilkins

For the first time in US history, the House of Representatives voted to oust its own leader Tuesday after a motion by far-right Republican Rep (Representative) Matt Gaetz of Florida to vacate the appointment of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s speakership passed with eight GOP votes and the support of every Democrat present.

The 216-210 vote to remove McCarthy, Rep-Calif, (Republican-California) came after his allies failed to come up with enough votes to table the motion to vacate.

In addition to Gaetz, the Republicans who voted for the motion to vacate were: representatives Andy Biggs (Arizona), Ken Buck (Colorado), Tim Burchett (Tennessee), Eli Crane (Arizona), Bob Good (Virginia), Nancy Mace (South Carolina), and Matt Rosendale (Montana).

“All Americans should watch this latest spectacle and know House Republicans have no business running a lemonade stand let alone the Congress.”

Those lawmakers have accused McCarthy of being insufficiently conservative. They were incensed by his deal with the White House to raise the debt limit earlier this year and have demanded the House make even deeper cuts to social safety net programmes than the deal contained.

The pro-democracy group Stand Up America said in a statement that “today’s vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker shows how intent ultra-MAGA (make America great again) Republicans are on sowing chaos and dysfunction, rather than actually governing on behalf of the American people.”

“It’s clear who is really in charge of the GOP (Grand Old Party, another name for Republican Party) Conference: Matt Gaetz and his band of political arsonists,” the group added. “MAGA Republicans’ sole agenda is to grind the federal government to a halt, use their power to exact political revenge, and attack our democracy and basic freedoms. We can’t expect the same election deniers who tried to overthrow the will of voters on January 6 to legislate for the American people now.”

On Monday, Gaetz accused McCarthy of making a “secret side deal” with President Joe Biden to provide more funding for Ukraine.

“It is going to be difficult for my Republican friends to keep calling President Biden ‘feeble’ while he continues to take Speaker McCarthy’s lunch money in every negotiation,” Gaetz said.

McCarthy’s chances of remaining in the speaker’s chair took a big hit earlier Tuesday when House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY – Democrat-New York) signalled that Democrats would do nothing to help salvage the speaker’s chair, vowing instead to vote in favour of his ouster.

“Given their unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism in an authentic and comprehensive manner, House Democratic leadership will vote yes on the pending Republican motion to vacate the chair,” Jeffries wrote in a Dear Colleague letter.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) told reporters Tuesday that “we are not voting in any way that will help Republicans”.

“There is reason after reason to just let Republicans deal with their own problems,” she added. “Let them wallow in their pigsty of incompetence and inability to govern.”

A new acting speaker pro tempore, Rep Patrick McHenry (R-NC), will now take the gavel until someone is elected to take McCarthy’s place.

Responding to McCarthy’s pending ouster in a statement ahead of the final vote, Rep Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) said that “in less than a year, Kevin McCarthy has proven himself to be the weakest House speaker in modern history”.

“Every decision Mr McCarthy has made was with eyes only on the speaker’s gavel,” he continued. “Governance and trust have been secondary. Mr McCarthy made corrupt bargains with right-wing extremists to seize power. He handed these misfits the tools they now wield against him so let him negotiate with these wolves.”

“All Americans should watch this latest spectacle and know House Republicans have no business running a lemonade stand let alone the Congress,” Pascrell said. “The House Republican majority can decide who they want to be speaker of the House. But the speaker cannot count on me to save him from the inmates he empowered in the Republican asylum.”

Brett Wilkins is a Common Dreams staff writer

This article was first published on Common Dreams