CV NEWS FEED // Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, announced Wednesday he will leave Congress at the end of this year.
His resignation statement came just over two months after he made history as the first speaker to be ousted from office mid-term via a motion to vacate.
“Seventeen years ago I was elected to a seat in Congress that I couldn’t get an internship for,” McCarthy said in his announcement video as somber piano music played in the background:
Today I sit here having served as your whip, leader, and as the 55th Speaker of the House. As the son of a firefighter from Bakersfield, my story is the story of America.
For me, every moment came with a great deal of devotion and responsibility. Giving my best to all of you has been my greatest honor. I’m proud of what we have accomplished. We won a House majority twice. We elected more Republican women, veterans, and minorities to Congress than ever before. We reduced the deficit by over two trillion dollars while protecting the full faith and credit of our nation. We kept our government operating and our troops paid while wars broke out around the world.
The former Speaker said that he has “encountered far more people that want to build something than those who want to tear it down.”
“I have faith in this country,” he said. “Because America is more than a country. America is an idea.”
“Today I am driven by the same purpose that I felt when I arrived in Congress,” McCarthy stated:
But now, it is time to pursue my passion in a new arena. While I will be departing the House at the end of this year, I will never ever give up fighting for this country that I love so much.
To all those who have supported me through the years, especially our constituents, thank you from the bottom of my heart. We did our part.
And when the stakes were the highest we rose to the challenge. We were willing to risk it all, no matter the odds, no matter the personal cost. Simply put, we did the right thing.
McCarthy posted the video to his X (formerly Twitter) account late Wednesday morning.
In three hours, his post was viewed a million times, but only garnered around 2,100 “likes.” During the same period of time, more than double this number of users – around 4,400 – left mostly negative comments on the post.
“I know my work is only getting started,” McCarthy wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal:
I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office. The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders.
It often seems that the more Washington does, the worse America gets. I started my career as a small-business owner, and I look forward to helping entrepreneurs and risk-takers reach their full potential. The challenges we face are more likely to be solved by innovation than legislation.
The resigning lawmaker claimed that the “most reliable solution to what ails America is before our eyes: everyday men and women who are raising families, showing up for work, volunteering, and pursuing the American Dream with passion and purpose.”
“I agree with President Reagan’s observation that ‘all great change in America starts at the dinner table,’” he wrote. “Despite the best attempts by special interest groups and the news media to divide us, I have seen the goodness of the American people.”
The former speaker’s departure elicited a variety of reactions from prominent Republicans.
Speaker Mike Johnson posted a gracious message on X thanking his predecessor.
“Kevin served the American people and his constituents in California’s Central Valley with honor for nearly two decades,” Johnson wrote:
As the Republican Leader, he helped secure the House Republican majority twice, and as Speaker he led the People’s House in its return to regular order after Pelosi’s Covid lockdowns.
Kevin and Judy have served faithfully and sacrificed substantially for the good of our country and our cause, and Kelly and I wish them the very best in their next endeavors.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, the Republican backbencher who orchestrated the successful motion to vacate against McCarthy struck a different tone.
“Today is a great day to watch #GaveledOut!” Gaetz wrote on X, referring to an original documentary his office released last month celebrating the ex-Speaker’s unprecedented removal.
Other observers drew different conclusions from the ex-speaker’s move.
“Our small Republican House majority continues to shrink,” wrote conservative activist Scott Presler.
Presler is not the only person to point out the fact that McCarthy’s absence will, for the time being, mean one fewer vote in opposition to President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Following last week’s high-profile expulsion of Rep. George Santos, R-NY, Republicans currently sit at a House majority of 221 seats to the Democrats’ 213.
However, in addition to McCarthy, Rep. Bill Johnson, R-OH, is also planning to resign his House seat in the coming months in order to accept the presidency of Youngstown State University.
On the Democratic side, only one member, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-NY, has announced his intention to resign before the completion of his current term.
Without Santos, McCarthy, and Johnson, House Republicans will likely face a razor-thin majority of 219 to 212.
A special election will likely be called to elect McCarthy’s successor in the House. His seat, California’s 20th District, is widely considered safe for Republicans to hold. Statistically, it is the most conservative seat in the state, having voted for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Republican opponent by nearly 40 points last year.