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Washington Wednesday: The House removes Speaker McCarthy

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WORLD Radio - Washington Wednesday: The House removes Speaker McCarthy

In a vote of 216 to 210, Democrats and eight Republicans vote to vacate the chair


Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is surrounded by press and police on the way to the chamber, at the Capitol in Washington. Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday, October 4th, 2023. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

STEVE WOMACK: On this vote. The yays are 216, the nays are 210. The resolution is adopted. The office of Speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant.

It's Washington Wednesday. And as you just heard big news from the nation's Capitol, Speaker McCarthy ousted by a solid block of Democrats and eight Republicans.

Joining us now to talk about it and what it might mean is Daniel Suhr, he is an attorney in Milwaukee, he served as a senior adviser to the Governor of his state, Scott Walker. He's also a contributor to world opinions.

Daniel, good morning.

DANIEL SUHR, GUEST: Good morning, guys. Great to be with you.

EICHER: Well, I sure expected fireworks yesterday, but not quite the solid wall of blue as the kind of the backdrop to eight red Roman candles going off. What did you think was going to happen?

SUHR: So initially, Nick, I was hopeful when I saw Lauren Boebert vote no for now, you know, on the one hand, Lauren's in a swing district in Colorado, and so she had a lot of political pressure, probably. But she has been as far to the right in the House Republican caucus as anybody. And so I was initially hopeful that folks like Ken Buck, like Nancy Mace, who are sort of in that far end of the party would nonetheless, stick by the deal that they already cut, right? They cut a deal to make McCarthy speaker in the first place, they just cut a deal on the continuing resolution. And so initially, I was I was hopeful this was just going to be a embarrassing stunt for one member or two members, but that we wouldn't see an actual choice to vacate the chair. That's not what happened.

REICHARD: Daniel, I'm curious, did anything stand out to you about the Republicans who did vote to remove McCarthy?

SUHR: Well, now the burden is on them, right? This is actually a pretty significant vote. It's never happened in the modern history of the house to vacate the chair like this. And these people, I think, now face intense ire hire within their own caucus, these are not going to be popular people at the next caucus meeting. And that is a responsibility that they have now to, I think, show the House and really the American people a way forward, that the House can do the job that that it's been elected to, which is to govern, which is to pass bills, which is to move legislation, which is to keep the government open, like the responsibility is on them now, to do these things under a speaker that they can support.

EICHER: You know, it's possibly time now to stop using the word unprecedented, because it seems like every time we use it, then precedent replaces old precedent. But maybe another label is appropriate like unexampled. Is there any example you can think of, to compare this to, in the history of tussling with, with House speakers?

SUHR: Honestly, Nick, not really. It's sort of amazing that we're at this point in our politics in the history of the whole House, it's been over a century, it's been over 11 decades, since there's been a successful motion to vacate the chair, 113 years, and it's really only been in the last few years that we see this constant, up and down roller coaster of leadership in the House, there certainly been leadership fights in the past where we can remember, you know, the end of Newt Gingrich's tenure, and the fight over who would replace him, and the the inside money being on the Appropriations Committee Chair, and instead, the House going a different direction. So there have been leadership fights, but they always happen at the start of the term, the start of the new Congress, and then they happen again, two years later. It's really only been in the last few years, people like Paul Ryan, coming to power. And now with this motion, that we've seen this incredible volatility within a two year term of Congress.

EICHER: Well, Daniel, you've been pretty tough on the eight Republicans who sent McCarthy into early retirement, but but they really did object to the deal with the Democrats. And what followed seemed a little predictable, didn't it? I mean, didn't they have to do what they did or risk losing all of their credibility?

SUHR: I don't think that's true, Nick, because the deal that was done with Democrats came after a vote on principle, and this happens all the time in the House. Conservatives for years have put forward The Republican Study Committee budget that casts a very conservative cut to the government balanced spending package, they get to vote their conscience, it fails. And then we all show up and do our real day job, which is governing. And the work of governing is hard. And it requires compromise. We don't have unified Republican control of all the branches. And so we have to make compromises. Those compromises aren't fun. They sometimes go against what we would hope for in an ideal world. But that's the job of governing, as long as we're going to keep the government open. Maybe if you're okay with living in a world where national parks aren't open and everything is shut down. Like that's not okay. And apparently, that's the world these eight are willing to live in. But I think the American people elect their representatives, expecting them to do the hard work of governing, and in fact, often praise them for doing the hard work of finding consensus and compromise.

REICHARD: So Patrick McHenry is President pro tem of the House…what does that portend for what’s next?

SUHR: Yeah, so interestingly, under the House rules, if the chair becomes vacant, the former speaker in this case, Kevin McCarthy, is responsible for designating a successor to simply facilitate the work of the house in choosing a new speaker. So he doesn't have the formal powers and speakership. He's not invested with a position for any length of time, his job is really just to keep the House open, while the House does the hard work of picking a new speaker. So now, we presume the House Republicans will be going into a private caucus setting to try to work this out amongst themselves. And McHenry will certainly be one of the people at the table, along with other leaders in the House Republican caucus, to facilitate this process of getting to a point where there's a majority again, in support of a new speaker.

REICHARD: Ok, let’s talk now about who might follow McCarthy. Potential candidates might include Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who I should point out is receiving treatment for blood cancer right now. And Majority Whip Tom Emmer looks like he’s pulled out. Now on Monday, Gaetz said that a house speaker needs to connect the conservative and moderate wings of the conference. Daniel, does anybody stand out to you as being able to do what Gaetz implies McCarthy failed to do?

SUHR: Mary, the third name I'll add to the mix is Chip Roy of Texas. I think it's going to come down to those three. So Tom Emmer is the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. That's the campaign arm of House Republicans. And so he's played an important role in electing a lot of the members of the caucus. He knows them. He knows their districts, he's raised money for them. Steve Scalise, obviously is a name known to many in the country because of his tragic assassination attempt, frankly, the shooting of House members at a baseball game a few years ago. And so there's a deep well of affection and goodwill for Leader Scalise coming out of that experience, but frankly, they're both perceived as being generally conservative, but not really conservative guys. They're still part of leadership. They're still part of speaker McCarthy's team. And so I don't expect them to approach the challenges of governing in a substantially different way. And if they choose one of them, it's really just putting Kevin McCarthy's scalp on a wall for Matt Gaetz, like we've accomplished very little in terms of shifting the Overton window. Chip Roy, on the other hand from Texas, is not part of the leadership team. He is definitely at a further point on the spectrum of House conservatism, and I think would reach substantively different decisions in terms of both policy and tactics from what you'd see from a McCarthy, a Scalise, or an Emmer.

EICHER: Daniel Suhr is an attorney and a contributor to WORLD Opinions. Thanks for joining us!

SUHR: Thanks for having me. Let's pray for our country.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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