‘That’s a wrap!’ McCarthy announces retirement from Congress – vows to keep ‘fighting for this country’

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy created a new headache for the Republican Party he vowed to serve, announcing his imminent departure from the House of Representatives at the end of the year.

After nearly two decades in Congress and a lightning-fast stint as House Speaker, McCarthy is calling it quits as a congressman, dropping the news Wednesday via a video message on X and in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. His exit further narrows the GOP majority which is looking at a special election in February to replace ousted former New York Rep. George Santos.

“No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. That may seem out of fashion in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country,” the California Democrat wrote in the Journal.

“It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways. I know my work is only getting started,” he added.

“I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office,” McCarthy added. “The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders.”

In the video message, McCarthy touted what he saw as his many achievements in Congress.

“Today I sit here having served as your whip, leader and as the 55th speaker of the House,” he said. “We kept our government operating and our troops paid while wars broke out around the world. … I have faith in this country.”

“Now, it is time to pursue my passion in a new arena,” he added without sharing any details. “While I’ll be departing the House at the end of this year, I will never, ever give up fighting for this country that I love so much.”

NRCC Chairman Richard Hudson (R-NC) praised McCarthy in a statement following the announcement.

“Kevin McCarthy’s contributions to our country and to growing the House Republican majority are unparalleled. A razor-sharp political mind, Kevin personally raised hundreds of millions of dollars and recruited hundreds of diverse candidates that led us from deep in the minority to the majority. This devotion to building our party is born from a strong love of country and a heart for service that motivates Kevin at his core,” he said.

“Born to humble beginnings, he worked for everything he had in life – driving the son of a firefighter to climb to the highest heights of American politics. Kevin is a believer in the American Dream because he lived it,” Hudson added. “Not only is Kevin McCarthy all of these things – he is also my close personal friend and mentor. Kevin taught me to always be the bigger person, focused on doing big things to make everyone around you better. Thank you Kevin McCarthy. I wish you and Judy all the best as you begin this new chapter of life.”

The departure of the GOP lawmaker created a wave of diverse reactions, from celebrations to condemnation.

“Congratulations Freedom Caucus for one and 105 Rep who expel our own for the other,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., wrote in a post on X. “I can assure you Republican voters didn’t give us the majority to crash the ship. Hopefully no one dies.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who spearheaded the movement to have McCarthy ousted as House speaker, seemed to acknowledge the announcement with an understated celebratory post on X.

Some offered off-color snickering.

And others recalled McCarthy’s own words: “I never quit.”

In general, it seems few will be sorry to see him go.

Frieda Powers

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