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Before vote to remove House Speaker, two Louisiana congressmen went to bat for McCarthy

9 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Tuesday, October 03 2023 Oct 3, 2023 October 03, 2023 4:24 PM October 03, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

Before members of the U.S. House removed Rep. Kevin McCarthy as their leader on Tuesday, two congressmen from Louisiana urged their colleagues to leave him in place as Speaker.

The House voted 216-206 to remove the California Republican after he served just 269 days. It marked the first time the House had removed to its leader; an attempt in 1910 went to a vote, which was unsuccessful.

The move was reminiscent of McCarthy's fight to win the leadership post last winter, when it took 15 votes to elect him. Conservatives won concessions then that made it easy to call a vote on whether McCarthy should continue as Speaker. 

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida had criticized McCarthy since the weekend, when the Speaker networked with Democrats to secure enough votes to keep the federal government operating into November. The alternative was another government shutdown. 

"Speaker McCarthy's been leading at the top of the level to make sure that we have the tools to do our jobs in a different way than the House has done it before," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and the the second-ranking Republican in the House, said in an hourlong debate before Tuesday's vote. "This House is going to have to continue to make those changes. But the American people sent us here to confront those problems. We're finally starting to. This isn't the time to slow that process down."

Moments later, Rep. Garret Graves of Baton Rouge, criticized McCarthy critics who had used the fight over budget negotiations and the subsequent effort to remove McCarthy to solicit money from donors.

"... All of a sudden, my phone keeps sending text messages. Text messages saying, hey, give me money. Oh, look at that. Oh, look. Give me money. I filed a motion to vacate using official actions, official actions to raise money. It's disgusting. It's what's disgusting about Washington," Graves said.

"This isn't about fundraising. This is about our country. It's about our children and our grandchildren. We need to stand behind this. We need to stand behind the Greatest speaker in modern history that has delivered the best conservative wins for this country."

At the end of the vote, 210 Republicans had voted to keep McCarthy at Speaker, while eight Republicans and 208 Democrats voted against him, for a total of 216. Had all members been present, it would have taken 218 votes to remove the Speaker  but several were either absent or didn't vote.

Little work can be down in a Speaker-less House and it wasn't immediately clear whether Republicans would again put McCarthy's name forward for the leadership post.

Democrats had met earlier Tuesday and their leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, said he was unwilling to provide the votes necessary to extend McCarthy's tenure. The New York Times reported Monday that Democrats were upset with McCarthy when he said in a CBS interview Sunday that Democrats wanted a shutdown when it was Democrats who provided most of the votes to avoid one.

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