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.
As the son of a firefighter from Bakersfield, my story is the story of America. For me, every moment came with a great deal of devotion and responsibility.
Serving you in Congress and as the 55th Speaker of the House has been my greatest honor. pic.twitter.com/jNnYQ8UO4k
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) December 6, 2023
“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.”
Now in 2024, we will have a 1 seat majority in the House of Representatives.
Congratulations Freedom Caucus for one and 105 Rep who expel our own for the other.
I can assure you Republican voters didn’t give us the majority to crash the ship.
Hopefully no one dies.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) December 6, 2023
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.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) December 6, 2023
Some offered off-color snickering.
My dad asked me recently what I thought of Kevin McCarthy.
In light of his retirement, I figured I’d share… pic.twitter.com/gTpjLKZObI
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiff) December 6, 2023
And others recalled McCarthy’s own words: “I never quit.”
Well, this video from Kevin McCarthy aged like milk. pic.twitter.com/JkpImzhxN7
— Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) December 6, 2023
In general, it seems few will be sorry to see him go.
This is how we take over the Republican Party & restore it to its roots
A party that works for the American people, not corrupt elites
Kevin McCarthy leaving Congress is only further proof of our progress
This battle is long and arduous, but we are making undeniable gains…
— DC_Draino (@DC_Draino) December 6, 2023
Kevin McCarthy is leaving Congress at the end of this year.
His political career summed up: The dog that finally caught the ambulance only to realize he wasn’t cut out to be an EMT.
— Jack E. Smith ⚖️ (@7Veritas4) December 6, 2023
Kevin McCarthy was NEVER in it for the people.
He was always in it for the power.
He just said if he can’t be top dog, he’s going to take his bone and go home.
Absolutely disgusting behavior.
— Joey Mannarino (@JoeyMannarinoUS) December 6, 2023
kevin mccarthy’s fall was swift. That man won the speakership, lost the speakership and retired from Congress all in 11 months.
— Covie (@covie_93) December 6, 2023
I am not surprised you have chosen to quit before the end of your term leaving your successor and the other Republicans with an even tighter majority than after the expulsion of Santos.
You have always been and will always be a vengeful man. You are not a good guy.
— AnimalFarm (@animalfarmnow) December 6, 2023
Kevin McCarthy leaving Congress in order to spend more time with his increasing sense of irrelevance
— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) December 6, 2023
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