The California congressman — whose tumultuous time at the helm of the House GOP ended in an unprecedented recall vote — announced his impending retirement from the House in an op-ed on Wednesday
Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy announced on Wednesday that he will be resigning from Congress at the end of the year, just two months after being ousted as House speaker in an unprecedented rebuke from members of his own party.
In an essay for the Wall Street Journal revealing his decision to retire after nearly 17 years in the House, McCarthy suggested that even after he leaves, he will continue his efforts to help recruit new candidates for office. "The Republican Party is expanding every day," he wrote, "and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders."
The longtime California lawmaker, who spent nine months as the nation's third-highest-ranked government official, then seemingly slighted the U.S. political system, writing, "It often seems that the more Washington does, the worse America gets."
He continued: "I started my career as a small-business owner, and I look forward to helping entrepreneurs and risk-takers reach their full potential. The challenges we face are more likely to be solved by innovation than legislation."
McCarthy's time at the helm of the House GOP was tumultuous, defined by a rare deadlocked House speaker election and, months later, a shocking vote to oust him from the role.
His removal as House speaker came after House Freedom Caucus member Matt Gaetz filed a "motion to vacate," which automatically triggered a recall vote against McCarthy. Gaetz's motion marked the first formal attempt to remove a House speaker in 113 years.
Stripping McCarthy of his leadership position only required a simple majority in the House, effectively putting his fate in the hands of Democrats, who sided with the far-right rebels in the end.
During McCarthy's short speakership, he faced roadblock after roadblock as GOP infighting continually reached new heights.
When Republicans narrowly regained the House majority in January, the party was immediately divided on who to elect as House speaker. The majority party's leader — at that time, McCarthy — is generally elected with ease, but far-right members refused to support him, resulting in the first deadlocked House speaker election in more than a century.
Rather than step back and make way for a more unifying Republican leader to assume the role, McCarthy insisted on becoming speaker and began making concessions to right-wing holdouts in order to earn their support.
By the time he secured the necessary votes to become speaker — which required a historic four days and 15 rounds of voting — he had conceded much of his power by promising Republicans that any one member could move to recall him if they were dissatisfied.
History repeated itself after McCarthy's ouster, when the fractured House GOP was again at odds over who to elect as House speaker in his stead. Multiple candidates were nominated to replace McCarthy, each of whom failed to secure the necessary votes to win and was forced to withdraw from the race.
After weeks of congressional gridlock, Republicans' fourth choice for the role — little-known Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, distinguished as one of the House's staunchest religious conservatives — emerged as the unlikely unity candidate and became the 56th speaker of the House.
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McCarthy, a Bakersfield, California, native, joined Congress as a representative for the San Joaquin Valley in 2007. He quickly rose through the ranks of Republican House leadership, serving as chief deputy whip, then majority whip, then majority leader.
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