U.S. Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) laid it all on the line Tuesday afternoon in supporting a motion to vacate to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) from the post he has tenuously held for less than a year.
“Speaker McCarthy has failed to demonstrate himself as an effective leader who will change the status quo. He has gone against many of the promises he made in January and can no longer be trusted at the helm,” Biggs said.
I support Motion to Vacate.
Speaker McCarthy has failed to demonstrate himself as an effective leader who will change the status quo.
He has gone against many of the promises he made in January and can no longer be trusted at the helm.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) October 3, 2023
Enough of his fiscal hawk colleagues felt the same way in effectively working with the Democrats to push McCarthy out of the speaker seat.
Biggs was joined by his fellow Grand Canyon Stater, U.S. Representative Eli Crane (R-AZ-02), six other frustrated conservatives, and all of the House’s Democrats in the historic vote.
“I have to vote my conscience. We failed to do our job and pass a budget and then passed a temporary spending bill to extend the deadline like we do every year,” said U.S. Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) before Tuesday’s vote. “It’s a tough decision, but I’m poised to vote for the motion to vacate because we are $33 trillion in debt.”
“We either need to change our direction or change our leadership,” Burchett added.
Leadership it was. The eight conservatives driving Tuesday’s revolt say the next step is finding a leader committed to substantive change.
My statement on my intention to vote for the motion to vacate. pic.twitter.com/4vrlp2XUra
— Rep. Tim Burchett (@RepTimBurchett) October 3, 2023
The anger from last weekend’s latest game of government shutdown chicken ending with another costly continuing resolution proved the final nail in McCarthy’s speaker coffin, with Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01) quickly dropping a resolution to vacate.
Tuesday’s vote to remove the speaker arrived just nine months after he narrowly won the post on the 15th ballot. McCarthy prevailed then because he made a lot of promises to get the federal government’s troubled fiscal house in order by passing a budget that cut the government and the massive U.S. debt.
McCarthy faced a Sisyphus task, bound by many promises he failed to keep while confronting the reality of a White House and Senate controlled by Democrats with a penchant to spend and resistance to securing the U.S. southwest border.
Over McCarthy’s short tenure, Biggs said, spending remains unchecked, the debt ceiling was extended to 2025, the national debt has climbed to $33 trillion with no relief in sight, the Internal Revenue Service is $80 billion bigger, and the border disaster is even worse. The continuing resolution, Biggs added, left McCarthy and Republicans with little leverage.
“When you don’t do your 12 [appropriation] bills and you rely ultimately on a CR, you cannot leverage this administration to actually enforce the border laws that you need to have enforced. This is a lawless Biden regime,” Biggs said during his speech on the floor.
McCarthy sounded optimistic that he could survive the challenge, but the writing may have been on the wall after 11 Republicans voted against a motion to table Gaetz’s resolution.
“If you throw a speaker out that has 99 percent of their conference, that kept government open and paid the troops, I think we’re in a really bad place,” McCarthy told Capitol reporters earlier in the day.
McCarthy had plenty of supporters, including U.S. Representative Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ-06), one of four Arizona Republican House members backing the speaker.
“Speaker McCarthy’s removal is pointless, unproductive and harmful to the agenda we put forth when we were elected,” Ciscomani wrote on his X account.
Speaker McCarthy’s removal is pointless, unproductive and harmful to the agenda we put forth when we were elected.
More from me. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/TJPyEpaxoi
— Congressman Juan Ciscomani (@RepCiscomani) October 3, 2023
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08) rallied his caucus to help the disenchanted Republicans vote to remove McCarthy.
“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,” wrote in a letter to fellow Dems.
But the fiscal hawks — including Representatives Ken Buck (R-CO-04), Bob Good (R-VA-05), Nancy Mace (R-SC-01), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT-02) — showed they are a force to be reckoned with, particularly in a House narrowly held by Republicans.
“Our country is facing $33 trillion of debt. Our border is facing an unprecedented invasion. And instead of being energy dominant, we are now energy reliant,” Rosendale said in a statement. “The House of Representatives and the American people deserve a leader who can challenge the status quo and put an end to this ruin.”
McCarthy is the first speaker to be removed by a motion to “vacate the chair.”
Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10), a close ally of McCarthy, will serve as speaker pro tempore (interim speaker) until a new speaker is elected.
McHenry negotiated this spring’s expensive deal with President Joe Biden to raise the debt ceiling, a deal that infuriated some conservatives.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Kevin McCarthy” by Kevin McCarthy.