Republican Kevin McCarthy, who is the first United State’s speaker to be ousted from power in the middle of a congressional term, on Wednesday announced that he will resign from office at the end of this month.
“I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways,” McCarthy wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
“It often seems that the more Washington does, the worse America gets. The challenges we face are more likely to be solved by innovation than legislation,” said McCarthy, who was removed as speaker by hardline Republicans in early October.
He was replaced by Speaker Mike Johnson, a relative newcomer to the leadership, after weeks of Republican infighting in which three more seasoned candidates were nominated and then rejected.
The departure which will spell an end to his 17-year congressional career, is a blow to his successor, Speaker Mike Johnson, and House Republicans, further cutting the already narrow GOP majority and making passing legislation in 2024 even more challenging.
While the former party leader and campaign fundraising juggernaut represents a safely Republican California district, his exit will further narrow Republicans’ already slim 221-213 majority early next year as Congress tries to avert a partial government shutdown in mid-January.
Under California law, a special election must take place within 126 to 140 days from the time the state’s governor calls it. McCarthy, 58, however vowed to continue recruiting candidates for elective office.
“The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders,” he said.
McCarthy’s timeline means he would depart before the 13th of February special election to replace expelled Rep. George Santos, further cutting the Republican majority down to 220 members versus 213 Democrats. That means House Republicans could lose just three votes before requiring Democratic support to pass measures.
McCarthy paired his retirement announcement with a video on X where he said: “Today I sit here having served as your whip, leader and as the 55th speaker of the House,” he says in the video, citing a list of achievements that he’s proud of. “We kept our government operating and our troops paid while wars broke out around the world. … I have faith in this country.”
McCarthy, who first entered Congress in 2007, spent the ensuing years rising through party leadership ranks in the House before beginning a brief but wild term as the top Republican in Congress. He belonged to a rising generation of Republicans known as “young guns,” which included former Speaker Paul Ryan.