NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Big changes are happening on Capitol Hill this week, as Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has been ousted from his position in a vote.
Eight Republicans in Congress united with Democrats to oust McCarthy, citing his reliance on Democrats to pass funding to avert a government shutdown.
“These disagreements were personal, and were about members getting attention,” stated Congressman Kelly Armstrong, in regard to the vote. “I voted to keep Kevin as speaker. I don’t think anybody’s done more to help us win the majority that we won in the last Congress. I don’t think anybody could have done a better job managing such a small majority and moving conservative policies forward.”
It’s the first time a House speaker has been removed in a no-confidence vote — but how does the process occur, and what is it that makes this occasion so monumental?
“It’s called a motion to vacate the chair,” Armstrong recalled. “It’s a privilege motion. It was called by the majority of the members present to vote to vacate the chair, and eight Republicans and every Democrat in Congress voted to do so. The vast majority of Republicans voted to keep Kevin McCarthy as speaker, but a small fraction of our Republican Party joined with the Democrats to kick the speaker out.”
Congressman Armstrong says McCarthy is still the most prolific fundraiser the House has, and many are worried that his absence will certainly be reflected in the Congress’s monetary efforts. Armstrong states that he finds the entire ordeal to be frustrating.
“He opened Congress up the most it’s ever been in 30 years,” explained Armstrong, “which allows every member to offer amendments and to be heard on the floor. That is something we haven’t had in Congress in a long, long time. I actually think it’s part of the criticism that I’m most frustrated with — the vast majority of the people critical of Speaker McCarthy wanted an open process and regular order, but then they also wanted him to guarantee results. You can’t do both of those things.”
Armstrong says that when representing a state like North Dakota, however, there are bigger fish to fry than the matter at hand — and which need immediate attention.
“We’re making sure that we keep coal-fired electricity going in North Dakota, trying to figure out an extension and a new farm bill, and working to push all these policies forward,” he stated. “But we’re not talking about those things right now — that’s unfortunate, and members of the Republican Conference are the reason why. We’ve got to figure out how to fix that.”
In the House, Armstrong says that unification will need to come soon if the government is to avoid complete stagnation.
“The party’s paralyzed,” he noted. “Congress is paralyzed right now. We have a speaker pro temp — Patrick McHenry, he’s a good friend of mine. He’s from North Carolina, but his only duty is to oversee the election of a new speaker. There’s a holiday on Monday, and Republicans will go to conference Tuesday night and Wednesday morning — but I’m just telling you right now, there’s nobody in the race that has 218 votes. Until we get to the point where we can elect a new speaker, the House can’t do any business. We’re 44 days away from another shutdown, and 44 days away from getting rolled by Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”
Possible candidates for the new speaker to replace McCarthy include Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise from Louisiana, or Florida congressman Byron Donalds.