McCarthy Ends Third-Shortest Tenure as Speaker After Ouster

McCarthy Ends Third-Shortest Tenure as Speaker After Ouster

(Bloomberg) -- Kevin McCarthy became the shortest-tenured US House speaker in 147 years on Tuesday, ousted by Republican hardliners who toppled him with a rarely used maneuver that had never before succeeded. 

The now-former speaker lost his gavel on a vote of 216 to 210, with 208 Democrats joining the eight Republicans who broke ranks. His speakership lasted only 269 days, the third-shortest in history.

The only speakers who held office for less time were Theodore Pomeroy, elected speaker-for-the-day on his last day in office in 1869, and Michael Kerr, who died in office in 1876 after 258 days.

Absent a scandal or death, House speakers usually serve for two years at a time, elected at the beginning of each new Congress and serving until it adjourns two years later.

McCarthy’s speakership was tenuous from the beginning. His election in January took five painful days. He only prevailed on the 15th ballot after some of the hardliners voted “present,” allowing him to reduce the total number of votes needed.

Those dissidents used that vote to extract concessions — including the one that ultimately brought McCarthy down: A change in the rules to allow a single member to force a vote to oust the speaker.

Read More: McCarthy Ousted as US House Speaker by Republican Dissidents

And emboldened by the win-at-all-costs bravado of former President Donald Trump, the rebellious wing known as the House Freedom Caucus defied McCarthy and took the government to the brink of a default in May and within hours of a government shutdown last week.

McCarthy, a Californian who was first elected to Congress in 2006, was ultimately forced to align with Democrats to keep the government open, a move that outraged those who finally removed him.

Congress passed just 15 laws during McCarthy’s tenure in the chair. That included two must-pass bills to prevent default and keep the government open, but also measures that renamed a veterans clinic, created a commemorative coin and unanimously agreed to declassify reports on the origins of the coronavirus.


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