Kevin in Heaven

Kevin McCarthy was ousted as House speaker on Tuesday.
Kevin McCarthy was ousted as House speaker on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
Abby Livingston
October 3, 2023

The sudden political collapse of Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted as House speaker on Tuesday by eight Republican “yes” votes, wasn’t shocking, or even surprising. After all, McCarthy’s fate was more or less sealed when he handed Matt Gaetz and his far-right allies the power to initiate a single-vote motion-to-vacate in exchange for their support in January’s leadership race—a gesture of short-minded politicking that perfectly captured how much he was willing to sacrifice to reach the top, even momentarily, of the greasy pole. One might even trace the antecedents of his political demise to last November, when the G.O.P. failed to capture enough House seats in 2022 to give McCarthy any breathing room. 

Of course, that hardly mitigates the enormity of what transpired Tuesday inside the Capitol, which is virtually incapable of passing legislation until a new speaker is chosen. In short, the House is ungovernable, and it’s not clear how this crisis resolves itself. Here’s what we know so far.