Washington — Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will resign from Congress at the end of the month, he announced Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation about his future after he wasin October.
“I have decided to leave the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways,” McCarthy wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. “I know my work is just beginning.”
McCarthy’s departure makes him thein the midst of growing polarization that has made the functioning of Congress difficult. His decision comes a day after Rep. Patrick McHenry, who briefly served as president pro tem following McCarthy’s ouster, also announced that he would be leaving Congress.
Without McCarthy, the slim majority of Republicans (which has already been reduced to eight later)– will be reduced to seven seats. TO for Santos’ seat by February 13, and the Cook Political Report considers the district a loss.
McCarthy represents California’s 20th District in the central part of the state, stretching from the San Joaquin Valley and the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada to the Mojave Desert. It’s a reliably red district that includes his hometown of Bakersfield.
McCarthy recently indicated that he has been going through stages of grief since his ouster and did not want to make a hasty decision about his future.
“If I decide to run again, I have to know in my heart that I’m giving 110%. I have to know that I want to do it,” McCarthy said recently at the New York Times DealBook Summit. “I also have to know if I’m going to leave, that I’ll be okay with leaving.”
“If you were just kicked out of the speaker, you’d go through different stages, wouldn’t you?” she added. “I want to know what’s right. And then if I walk away from something I spent two decades on, I don’t want to look back and say I made an emotional decision.”
McCarthy’s tumultuous presidency
McCarthy, who was elected to Congress in 2006, held the top job for nine months before a deal he made to secure the presidency led to his downfall. His fight to win the gavel when Republicans took control of the House in January included 15 rounds of voting and presaged the limits of his power over a fractured party.
To win the support of far-right Republicans, he accepted a rule that allowed a single member to trigger a vote of no confidence to remove the president. That came back to haunt him when fellow Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida introduced a resolution to do just that after McCarthy relied heavily on votes from House Democrats to temporarily avert a government shutdown in September. Eight Republicans voted with all Democrats to impeach McCarthy, marking the first time in US history that a speaker of the House of Representatives was ousted by such a motion.
His successor, House Speaker Mike Johnson, has made similar decisions since taking office, including relying on Democrats to avoid a shutdown in November, but has so far avoided McCarthy’s fate.
McCarthy has made no secret of his disdain for Republicans who voted to impeach him, telling CNN last month that Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina did not deserve to be re-elected and that the GOP would benefit “tremendously” if Gaetz did not. was in Congress. He also questioned the motives of Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee.
“They care a lot about the press, not the politics, and so it seems like they just want the press and the personality,” McCarthy told CNN.
Burchett later accused McCarthy ofin a Capitol hallway in retaliation for the vote, which McCarthy denied.
“If I hit someone, they’d know I hit them,” McCarthy said.