J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he will retire from the House of Representatives at the end of this year, before his term ends.
McCarthy announced his plans in an essay published in the Wall Street Journal.
“No matter the odds or the personal cost, we did the right thing,” McCarthy wrote. “It may seem old-fashioned in Washington these days, but getting results for the American people is still celebrated across the country. It is in that spirit that I have decided to leave the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways. I know my work has only just begun.
McCarthy was removed as speaker earlier this year in a rare House vote on a motion to vacate the chair. His ouster led to a three-week debacle in which Washington was paralyzed, with the House unable to function as the Republican conference struggled to reach consensus on a new leader.
McCarthy’s departure reduces the Republican majority and could increase the risks of a government shutdown.
With McCarthy’s resignation and the recent ouster of Representative George Santos (Republican of New York), President Mike Johnson’s razor-thin majority continues to shrink.
Republicans will have just a three-vote majority to pass key legislation after McCarthy leaves office, including two government funding deadlines.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday that the state will hold a special election to fill Santos’ seat on Feb. 13, 2024. California will also have to hold a special election to replace McCarthy, a process that could take weeks .
With the expulsion of George Santos from Congress, I declare a special election on February 13, 2024 to fill the vacancy and ensure continued representation for the residents of the Third Congressional District. pic.twitter.com/5xSTLpUUsT
– Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) December 5, 2023
The vacancies put enormous pressure on House leaders who have previously struggled to pass partisan legislation, with key appropriations bills either failing or withdrawn from consideration due to a lack of party support. republican.
The fractious nature of the conference forced Johnson, after days of searching for an alternative, to rely on Democratic votes to keep the government funded into the new year – frustrating hardliners and reflecting the decision that cost McCarthy his job as president.
Now, unless Republicans can overcome their so-far intractable differences, McCarthy’s departure could force Johnson to rely once again on Democrats to advance much-needed legislation.
Congress must approve the new spending authority twice in the coming months, with the first deadline in just over six weeks, when the first round of funding bills expire on January 19. The remaining spending bills will expire on February 2.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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