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Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to resign at year's end

McCarthy announced in the Wall Street Journal he will step down from his seat in Congress at the end of the year.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to resign at year's end
Posted at 11:43 AM, Dec 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 13:49:59-05

Months after being ousted as House speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, announced he is resigning from Congress and is not seeking reelection for his seat in 2024. 

McCarthy made the announcement in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

The next election will mark the first time in two decades McCarthy is not on a ballot after serving 17 years. McCarthy has won all nine elections by wide margins, but opted not to seek a 10th term. 

"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," McCarthy said. "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."

McCarthy, who was previously the House Minority Leader when Democrats held control of the chamber, was elevated to speaker in January, but not before a contentious battle for the gavel. 

McCarthy faced steep opposition from members of the Freedom Caucus. The California congressman survived 15 rounds of voting, had to make a number of concessions to members — which ultimately led to his demise months later — and openly argued with fellow Republicans on the House floor before finally being elected.

But support withered for him even more after he joined with Democrats to push a bill to keep the government temporarily funded with no spending cuts. Those very same Freedom Caucus members he bickered with in January forced him out in October. 

He was replaced by Rep. Mike Johnson as speaker.

SEE MORE: Rep. Patrick McHenry, who served as acting House speaker, will retire

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has 14 days after McCarthy's resignation to call for a special election. At that time, the election must be scheduled 126-140 days out. That would put the election sometime in late May or early June. 

With McCarthy's resignation and last week's expulsion of Rep. George Santos, Republicans will start 2024 with a slimmer majority, holding 220 seats, compared to 213 for Democrats. 

The special election to replace Santos will be Feb. 13. 

During his tenure, McCarthy was known for building the coffers for Republicans running for Congress. 

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


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