Speaker McCarthy Voted Out, Showdown over Border Security Looms
FAIR Take | October 2023
Last Tuesday, Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was removed from the Office of Speaker of the House by a vote of 216-210. The vote was the result of a motion filed by Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), which garnered the support of eight Republicans and all Democrats, forcing McCarthy out. The eight Republicans voting to oust McCarthy included Reps. Gaetz, Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Tim Burchett (Tenn.), Eli Crane (Ariz.), Bob Good (Va.), Nancy Mace (S.C.) and Matt Rosendale (Mont.).
The move against McCarthy came after House leadership forced through a clean Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government at current levels until November 17. That CR followed a failed effort to advance a separate CR which included the majority of H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act. Among other grievances, Congressman Gaetz stated that advancing the 45-day clean CR violated agreements that McCarthy had made to become Speaker, and so introduced the motion to vacate the chair last Monday.
After the vote to remove McCarthy, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) was appointed Speaker pro tempore, to temporarily manage House business until a new Speaker is elected. Because a motion to vacate the Speaker has never succeeded in the House, McHenry then suspended legislative business for the remainder of the week and put in place a plan to vote for a new leader. He set this coming Tuesday to hold a forum for candidates to make their case, at which point Republicans will begin internal consideration of candidates, with a House majority vote needed for election.
Frontrunners for the job appear to be Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Additional committee and leadership changes are possible in the coming days and weeks.
The leadership shakeup comes as Congress continues to debate appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2024, with both Democrats and Republicans, and the Senate and House, remaining divided on critical points. On border security, key House groups are advocating for H.R. 2 to be included in FY24 spending agreements, arguing the border is out of control and that the Biden Administration is allowing record numbers of illegal aliens and dangerous narcotics to cross.
The House has passed its FY24 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill. The Senate has not yet passed a Homeland Security spending bill off the floor, and the bill that has worked its way through the Appropriations Committee utterly fails to address the border crisis. Instead, it merely offers to maintain the disastrous status quo. Between now and November 17, FAIR will continue urging congressional leaders that any spending agreement for FY 2024 include H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act. The border must be secured now – families and communities across the country cannot afford to wait.
To access, FAIR’s activist toolkit, including bill summaries and the 117th Congress voting report, click here.