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Kevin McCarthy to resign from Congress after being ousted as House speaker

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced Wednesday that he will resign from his congressional seat after being ousted as House speaker. 

McCarthy made the announcement in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal. 

‘No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. That may seem out of fashion in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country. It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways. I know my work is only getting started,’ McCarthy wrote. ‘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.’

McCarthy surmised, ‘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.’

He detailed 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.”

‘Despite the best attempts by special interest groups and the news media to divide us, I have seen the goodness of the American people. They are what will ultimately uphold the enduring values of our great nation. We all have a role to play in that effort,’ McCarthy wrote. ‘I never could have imagined the journey when I first threw my hat into the ring. I go knowing I left it all on the field — as always, with a smile on my face. And looking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Only in America.’

McCarthy started the op-ed by writing, ‘I’m an optimist. How could I not be?’ He went on to detail how he’s the son of a firefighter and served in the same congressional seat for the last 17 years, ironically from the same office in which he was previously denied an internship. 

McCarthy recalled how he helped Republicans to a House majority twice. ‘We got more Republican women, veterans and minorities elected to Congress at one time than ever before,’ he wrote. ‘I remained cheerfully persistent when elected speaker because I knew what we could accomplish.’

Listing his accomplishments, he continued, ‘Even with slim margins in the House, we passed legislation to secure the border, achieve energy independence, reduce crime, hold government accountable and establish a Parents’ Bill of Rights. We did exactly what we said we would do.’

‘We kept our eyes on America’s long-term global challenges by restoring the Intelligence Committee to its original charter and establishing a bipartisan Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party,’ McCarthy wrote. ‘We reduced the deficit by more than $2 trillion, revamped work requirements for adults on the sidelines, cut red tape for critical domestic energy projects, and protected the full faith and credit of the U.S. We kept our government operating and our troops paid while wars broke out around the world.’ 

McCarthy was the first House speaker to be voted out of the position in U.S. history. 

With the departure of former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., and McCarthy, the House GOP margin goes down to just two at the end of the year. 

At the start of 2024, the House will have 220 sitting Republicans and 213 Democrats, with two vacancies. 

A 218 majority is needed to pass legislation, meaning the GOP can only afford to lose two votes to pass a bill. If the GOP loses three votes, that legislative proposal will fail. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, has already set a special election for Santos’ Third District on Feb. 13. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, must announce a special election date within 14 days of McCarthy’s exit. 

McCarthy will leave Congress two months after he was booted from his House speakership position after his top rival, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., orchestrated the rare vote on the obscure ‘motion to vacate.’ Though McCarthy maintained support from most Republicans in the House, eight GOP detractors ultimately ushered in his ouster in October, mainly taking issue with McCarthy for choosing to work with Democrats to temporarily delay a federal government shutdown. 

At the start of this year, Republicans held only a fragile margin in the chamber after a predicted ‘red wave’ failed to materialize in the 2022 elections.

McCarthy endured a dayslong floor fight in January that eventually resulted in his ascension to the House’s top job at a time when deep divisions within the GOP raised serious questions about the party’s ability to govern following former President Donald Trump leaving office. 

It took a record 15 votes over four days for McCarthy to line up the support he needed to win the post he had long coveted, finally prevailing on a 216-212 vote with Democrats backing leader Hakeem Jeffries and six Republican holdouts voting present. Not since the Civil War era has a speaker’s vote dragged through so many rounds of counting.

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