(CNN) — The US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker – a historic moment that threatens to plunge House Republicans even further into chaos and turmoil.
The House will now need to elect a new speaker, but there is no clear alternative who would have the support needed to win the gavel. McCarthy’s political future hangs in the balance and it remains to be seen whether he will seek to win back the speakership. No House speaker has ever before been ousted through the passage of a resolution to remove them.
The fight over the speakership marks a major escalation in tensions for a House GOP conference that has been mired in infighting – and it comes just days after McCarthy successfully engineered a last-minute bipartisan effort to avert a government shutdown.
The effort to push McCarthy out comes as a bloc of hardline conservatives have continued to thwart him, voting against key priorities of GOP leadership and repeatedly throwing up roadblocks to the speaker’s agenda.
Prior to the final vote, the House failed to table – or block – the effort to oust him by a vote of 208 to 218 with 11 Republicans voting against the motion to table. The GOP no votes were Gaetz, Eli Crane and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Victoria Spartz of Indiana, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Bob Good of Virginia, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Cory Mills of Florida and Warren Davidson of Ohio.
House Democrats signaled ahead of the vote that they would not bail out McCarthy.
There is a significant amount of distrust and anger from House Democrats toward McCarthy, however, over his actions as speaker and the House GOP agenda.
House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries wrote in a letter to his caucus that leadership planned to vote in support of removing McCarthy ahead of the final vote.
“It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War. Given their unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism in an authentic and comprehensive manner, House Democratic leadership will vote yes on the pending Republican Motion to Vacate the Chair,” he wrote.
McCarthy told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s votes that he is “confident I will hold on.” But he conceded ahead of the vote that he faces tough odds. “If five Republicans go with Democrats, then I’m out,” McCarthy said, adding “probably so,” when pressed on whether that is likely to happen. He said he was not expecting Democrats to back him up in the vote.
McCarthy also told his members he will not cut a deal with Democrats, sources said.
Gaetz was directly pressed by his colleagues during a Tuesday party meeting for his grand plan, and who would replace McCarthy if he was ousted, sources said. Gaetz stood up and responded that there would need to be a new speaker’s election that plays out but didn’t name anyone he had in mind for the job.
To force a vote, a member must go to the House floor and announce their intent to offer the resolution to remove the speaker – as Gaetz did. Doing so requires the speaker to put the resolution on the legislative schedule within two legislative days, setting up a showdown on the floor over the issue.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.
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