The United States House of Representatives has made history by voting to remove its Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, in a stunning move orchestrated by a group of right-wing Republicans, with some Democratic support.
The 216 to 210 vote on Tuesday came just days after the House narrowly averted a government shutdown by passing a temporary funding bill that relied on Democratic votes.
The revolt was led by Representative Matt Gaetz, a far-right Republican from Florida and a vocal critic of McCarthy, who accused the party leader of not doing enough to cut federal spending and fight the Joe Biden administration.
Gaetz and his allies argued that McCarthy had failed to deliver on the Republican agenda and had lost the confidence of his caucus.
They said that the House needed a new speaker who would fight for conservative principles and stand up to the Democrats.
McCarthy’s party controls the chamber by a slim 221-212 majority, meaning that he could not afford to lose more than five votes from his own ranks.
However, eight Republicans defected and joined 208 Democrats to oust McCarthy from his post.
No clear successor has emerged for the speaker’s role, which is the third-highest position in the U.S. government.
In debate on the House floor, Gaetz and other rebels slammed McCarthy for relying on Democratic votes to pass the funding bill that prevented a partial government shutdown.
“We need a speaker who will fight for something – anything – other than staying on as speaker,” said Republican Representative Bob Good.