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The McCarthy malarkey

By Adrian Tomaszewski Nov. 9, 2023


In surfing, when a wave fails to materialize, there is a period of tranquility amidst the chaos. In politics, however, more chaos ensues. Although a highly-anticipated “red wave” largely fizzled out before reaching shore in the 2022 midterm elections, a nine-man Republican majority in the House of Representatives narrowly brought an end to the trifecta of the Democrats. It was now crucial for the Republicans to remain united against the unfaltering Democratic Party. After fifteen resolutions and multiple rounds of intraparty negotiations, Representative Kevin McCarthy won the post of House Speaker, succeeding Nancy Pelosi; but just ten months later, he would be removed by members of his own party.


Jane Hong Art

On Oct. 3, Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida launched a motion to vacate McCarthy, a moderate Republican, from the chair of Speaker of the House. His motion, as expected, rapidly gained support among all the present 208 Democrats of the house. More surprisingly, however, eight Republicans also voted against McCarthy, officially vacating him from the Speakership. This was the first time ever in Congressional history that a sitting Speaker of the House was removed. All eight of the Republicans were members of the Freedom Caucus, the most hardline conservative faction of the Republican Party. They were also responsible for much of the opposition to McCarthy’s election as Speaker in the first place.


McCarthy’s removal came as a result of his willingness to compromise with Democrats on a temporary bill that would extend funding to federal agencies until Nov. 17, which would avert an impending government shutdown. Democrats also pushed for provisions about sending aid to Ukraine and natural disaster relief in the bill, but these stipulations were eventually removed in the bipartisan compromise. The Freedom Caucus previously warned that if McCarthy negotiated a bipartisan solution, he would be sacked—the Caucus has historically opposed stopgap funding bills, demanding long-term single-party solutions over “band-aid compromises.” While the Freedom Caucus threatened to block the bill in the House, Senate Republicans promised to pass the bill bipartisanly.


“McCarthy was justified in his negotiations. He was attempting to prevent a government shutdown, which would have put millions of workers without pay and destabilized the economy,” Senior Vishal Makaram said.

Following his removal, McCarthy had refused to run for reelection, and only nine Republican candidates were seeking the now politically dangerous position. The main candidates were Jim Jordan, the founder of the House Freedom Caucus, Steve Scalise—the House Majority Leader, and Tom Emmer—Scalise’s protege.


Jane Hong Art

On Oct. 25, after four failed elections to replace McCarthy, Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana was selected as the new Speaker of the House. A four-term backbencher with little leadership experience, he was a relatively unknown figure in the political sphere—a great advantage for a house that is becoming increasingly polarized. Although not a member of the Freedom Caucus, Johnson is still one of the most right-leaning members of Congress, being anti-abortion, anti-gay rights and fiscally conservative. Furthermore, he is an avid advocate for former president Donald Trump and supports his belief of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. His election materialized the right-wing shifting of the Republican Party ever since the beginnings of the Tea Party Movement in the late 2000s and solidified the hardliners’ control over the House.


“McCarthy's sacking was definitely a rushed idea, and the resulting fallout highlights the Republican Party's failure to establish a direction for the future. McCarthy did indeed make many concessions and bold promises, but they were necessary, and Johnson will have to do the same,” Junior Khedaar Kashyap said.

The government funding issue that prompted McCarthy’s sacking will return to the House floor again by mid-November, potentially leading to another forced bipartisan compromise. But with polarization on the rise—especially within the Republican Party, where moderates and hardliners are growing increasingly divided—compromises appear ever more difficult to reach. And now, the replacement of the Speaker seems to be becoming a factional tool to gain political power, signifying the growing inter- and intra-party rifts plaguing the country.

 

About the Contributors


Adrian Tomaszewski

staff writer


Adrian Tomaszewski is a junior at Leland High School and is a staff writer for the Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys swimming, cooking, listening to music, ranting about politics to unsuspecting victims, and playing video games.


Jane Hong

artist


Jane Hong is a sophomore at Leland High School and is an artist for the Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys listening to K-pop music, dancing, sleeping and doodling.

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