US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Removed in Historic Far-Right Uprising

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In a stunning turn of events, Kevin McCarthy was unseated from his position as Speaker of the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, succumbing to a historic rebellion led by far-right Republicans who vehemently opposed his bipartisan collaboration with Democrats. This power struggle laid bare the tumultuous infighting within the Republican party, a discord likely to reverberate through the lead-up to the 2024 presidential elections, widely anticipated to be dominated by Donald Trump. Notably, Trump is already etching his place in history as the first sitting or former president to face multiple criminal charges.

This unprecedented removal of a speaker in the House's 234-year existence was backed by only a small faction of staunch right-wing Republicans. However, with the House nearly evenly divided, and eight rebel Republicans siding with the Democrats rather than rallying behind McCarthy, his political survival became untenable. The 58-year-old former entrepreneur, who remained tight-lipped as he exited the chamber, had sparked outrage among conservatives by endorsing a bipartisan interim funding measure, supported by the White House, to stave off a government shutdown.

Matt Gaetz, a conservative from Florida, took a calculated gamble by initiating the removal vote. He believed he could unseat McCarthy with a handful of Republicans, counting on support from Democrats who were reluctant to bail out a Speaker who had recently launched a highly contentious impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Despite stern warnings from party leaders about the potential chaos, Gaetz defiantly declared, "Chaos is Speaker McCarthy." He emphasized, "The reason Kevin McCarthy fell today is because nobody had faith in him. He made numerous conflicting promises, and when they all came due, he faltered."

Democrats, too, harbored no fondness for McCarthy, pointing to his reversal of an agreement with Biden regarding spending limits, negotiated earlier this year during critical talks on the federal budget.

The New Democrat Coalition, a faction of pro-business Democratic lawmakers, characterized McCarthy as "fundamentally unreliable." Meanwhile, Pramila Jayapal, chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a prominent leftist figure, pledged to let Republicans grapple with their self-inflicted "quagmire of ineptitude" rather than rescue McCarthy.

This skirmish unfolded just two days after both the House and Senate passed a measure to avert a costly government shutdown, garnering significant bipartisan support. However, conservatives were livid, as they saw their aspirations for substantial budget cuts dashed. They accused McCarthy of flip-flopping, contending that he had pledged to abandon hastily concocted stopgap measures, devised with opposition backing, in favor of a return to the committee-driven budgeting process.

The die was cast when Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries urged his members to depose McCarthy. Subsequently, every Democrat joined forces with 11 rebel Republicans to quash an initial motion intended to obstruct the final ousting vote.

With McCarthy's departure, a temporary speaker adjourned the House until a permanent successor is elected. Republicans are slated to convene at 6:30 pm (2230 GMT) to deliberate on nominating a candidate for the new Speaker. It remains within the realm of possibility that McCarthy might be put forward for a return to the role he recently lost. His earlier triumph in clinching the gavel, after 15 rounds of balloting in January, underscored his broad party support, potentially positioning him to rally the rank-and-file once more. However, an alternative scenario could see him gracefully bowing out, setting the stage for a showdown among his key lieutenants, notably House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer.

Yet, potential contenders from the Republican camp might shy away from shouldering what appears to be a poisoned chalice, one where the hard-right faction is poised to exert influence from the fringes. Trump, currently contending with 91 felony charges and engaged in a civil fraud trial in New York, castigated Republicans on his social media platform for their perpetual infighting. Strikingly, he offered no vocal support for McCarthy, signaling a potentially seismic shift in party dynamics.

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