Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy enjoys the loyalty of his leadership team and the vast majority of the Republican rank and file in the US House of Representatives. AFP

A real earthquake shook U.S. politics with the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). This is the first time this has happened in the history of the House of Representatives. The vote was 216 to 210.

The architect of the impeachment is Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who filed a motion late Monday to force a vote on McCarthy's removal.

Gaetz leads a group of 8 radical Republican lawmakers who are breaking with their party's leadership in the so-called Freedom Caucus.

The GOP's slim majority in the lower house has allowed a member of his own party, backed by Democratic votes, to oust him from office.

McCarthy, a moderate who had been questioned for his lack of leadership, had come to office with great difficulty after numerous votes. The same sector had prevented his appointment, and it was only after several votes that he reached the majority to become Speaker of the House.

Strategically, McCarthy's opponents forced him to make hard-to-achieve compromises on his agenda and concessions that were crucial to today's outcome.

To get the necessary votes, McCarthy agreed that the motion to impeach the Speaker could be introduced by a single member of Congress.

Opponents of the decision accuse its authors of creating chaos as Congress adjourns for the rest of the week.

Gaetz responded during the debate on the House floor, saying, "I don't think voting against Kevin McCarthy is chaos. I think $33 trillion in debt is chaos. I think facing a $2.2 trillion annual deficit is chaos. I think not passing spending bills is chaos."

Kevin McCarthy And Fellow Republican Matt Gaetz
Kevin McCarthy and fellow Republican Matt Gaetz square off in the US House of representatives on January 6, 2023 OLIVER DOULIERY/AFP

The decision comes as a surprise, as even Gaetz himself had previously indicated that McCarthy could only be saved from retirement by Democrats, who ultimately voted to impeach him.

Members of the caucus found common ground with Democratic lawmakers unhappy with McCarthy's performance.

One of the biggest criticisms of McCarthy's work is that he failed to deliver on the promises he made when he was appointed. The issue of spending caps to curb the growth of the national debt was one of the issues that caused dissatisfaction among Republicans.

Democrats, for their part, denounced the Speaker's lack of leadership.

Both McCarthy and Gaetz have declined to run for the vacant position, which will be filled on an interim basis by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) until a new Speaker is appointed.

Congressman McHenry is a politician who has always steered clear of controversy. He came to Washington from North Carolina as the youngest lawmaker on Capitol Hill at the time.

He is currently the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, a committee he has served on since being elected to Congress.

The move comes in the middle of an election year and during months of budget debate to avoid a shutdown of the federal government.

In addition to the extension to reach a final agreement, there is now the complex task of finding a replacement for McCarthy, for which the Republicans were not prepared.

The decision took them by surprise, and now the discussion of who will occupy the position of Speaker of the House is added to that of the budget.

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