For the first time in history, the House of Representatives voted to vacate the Speaker of the House on Tuesday (October 3). The resolution to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker passed by a vote of 216-210. Eight Republicans joined all Democrats in voting to remove McCarthy.
The motion to vacate was filed on Monday by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. Gaetz and a small number of conservative lawmakers have been openly feuding with McCarthy over his handling of House business. They were incensed over his decision to vote on a clean continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown and his refusal to fight for a more conservative budget that included significant spending cuts, border security provisions, and no additional money for Ukraine.
Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina was named as Speaker pro tem and declared the House go into recess. McHenry's name was on a list submitted to the House Clerk by McCarthy in January in case the Speakership was vacated.
After the vote, Gaetz blasted McCarthy, calling him a "creature of the swamp."
"He has risen to power by collecting special interest money and redistributing that money in exchange for favors," Gaetz said. "We are breaking the fever, and we should elect a speaker who is better."
When asked by reporters about nominating Rep. Steve Scalise, Gaetz seemed open to the idea.
"I think the world of Steve Scalise. I think he would make a phenomenal speaker."
The House has only had one previous vote to remove the Speaker. In 1910, a motion to vacate against Speaker Joseph Cannon failed, allowing him to retain his position. In 2015, then-Rep. Mark Meadows tried to file a motion to vacate against Speaker John Boehner, but it was never brought up for a vote because he didn't formally introduce it on the House floor.