Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
October 3, 2023
It is another unprecedented political event in the US: The first ouster of a speaker in the House’s 234-year history. It is equivalent to dissolving the government in a parliamentary nation. Since the Congress is a separate but co-equal branch of the US government, it implies that the US government is literally shut down, until a new speaker of the House is seated. However, the oust of a seating Speaker of the House is a clear sign that the Republican party is facing serious infightings, and their majority simply can not govern. Thus, it is not clear when the next speaker of the house would be elected and how he/she could be effective.
This uncertainty has grave implications for the US right now. Specifically, the 45-days CR will expire on November 17, 2023: there are 43 days left and the clock is counting. Developing a federal budget is a serious time-consuming business and difficult negotiations will be necessary between the political parties and the administration. A strong Speaker of the House is the key. As of now, it is uncertain who may want the job.
As the world watches this US political drama plays out:
- How could Biden keep his promise to deliver the US aid for Ukraine on time?
- If the drama drags on, how Biden can effectively host the APEC annual leadership meeting with summits in San Francisco next month?
- The impacts on the 2024 general elections?
Biden is benefitted by this chaos at the House as his impeachment process will be on hold till the next Speaker of the House is comfortably seated.
Republican hardliners oust US House speaker in historic vote
Tue, October 3, 2023 at 4:59 PM PDT
Kevin McCarthy was axed Tuesday as speaker of the US House of Representatives in a brutal, historic rebellion by far-right Republicans accusing him of a string of broken promises and furious at his cooperation with Democrats.
The maneuver laid bare the chaotic levels of infighting among Republicans heading into the 2024 presidential election, with its likely candidate Donald Trump making history of his own as the only former or sitting president to face criminal indictment.
“I ended up being the 55th speaker of the House — one of the greatest honors. I loved every minute,” a circumspect McCarthy told reporters after the vote, making clear he did not plan to stand again.
“And the one thing I will tell you is doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it is necessary. I don’t regret standing up for choosing governance over grievance.”
Florida conservative Matt Gaetz, who forced the removal vote, gambled that he could oust McCarthy with just a few Republicans, helped by Democrats loath to bail out a speaker who only recently opened a highly politicized impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
“The reason Kevin McCarthy went down today is because nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz said. “Kevin McCarthy has made multiple contradictory promises, and when they all came due, he lost.”
Biden issued a statement through his press secretary after McCarthy’s overthrow urging the House to quickly choose a replacement, arguing that the urgent challenges facing the country “will not wait.”
– ‘Pigsty of incompetence’ –
The New Democrat Coalition, a bloc of pro-business Democratic lawmakers, described McCarthy as “simply not trustworthy.” And Congressional Progressive Caucus chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, a leading leftist, vowed to let Republicans “wallow in their pigsty of incompetence” rather than rescue McCarthy.
Conservatives were furious, seeing their chances dashed for forcing massive budget cuts.
They accused McCarthy of a flip-flop, saying he’d promised an end to hastily prepared stopgap legislation, hammered out with the support of the opposition, and a return to budgeting through the committee process.
With McCarthy out, a temporary speaker put the House into recess as Republicans gathered to discuss picking a replacement.
House vote to oust McCarthy could mean ‘weeks’ of chaos and higher odds of shutdown
Updated Tue, October 3, 2023 at 3:00 PM PDT
A small group of far-right Republicans responded to last weekend’s shutdown deal by ousting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday, the first time a lawmaker revolt has successfully ousted a House speaker in American history.
“The office of speaker of the House … is hereby declared vacant,” announced Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.).
As the debate dragged on Tuesday afternoon and the outcome became increasingly clear, lawmakers predicted an extended wave of government dysfunction in the days and weeks ahead.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) perhaps put it most succinctly when he predicted that “the House will be paralyzed, we can expect week after week of fruitless ballots while no other business can be conducted.”
Increased chances of a government shutdown
The chaos also appears likely to increase the odds of a government shutdown next month.
Perhaps Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) was the most blunt, reportedly saying behind closed doors in a meeting of Republicans before the vote that “if we vacate the chair, the government will shut down,” according to a report in the New York Times.
Lawmakers have until Nov. 17 to search for another government spending compromise following last weekend’s deal.
But for now, Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) notes that work in the House to head off a shutdown will likely be stopped. The wrangling to come, she said, “will put this House in a stalemate and paralyze our ability to fight for our constituents and instead create a fight amongst one another.”
- White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre replied: “We’re going to continue help to Ukraine as long as it takes. … If Putin thinks he can outlast us, he’s wrong.”