October 4, 2023 - House searches for new speaker after McCarthy ousted

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 10:01 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023
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9:43 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Recriminations and "raw nerves" simmer within House GOP after ouster of McCarthy

From CNN's Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju

As Kevin McCarthy was on the brink of losing his speakership, some of his allies delivered a not-so-veiled threat to GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina: If you vote to oust McCarthy, the party might not be willing to help raise money for your race.

The warning to Mace, which was described by a source familiar with the conversation, is a sign of just how seriously the speaker drama has rankled the Republican party, with money often used as a powerful carrot – or stick – in Washington.

Yet Mace, a Republican who could face a competitive race and will need a well-funded campaign war chest to win reelection, ultimately joined seven other GOP lawmakers and all Democrats to sink McCarthy. And it’s not the only repercussion she could now be facing for her career-defining moment of defiance: Sources told CNN that there’s discussion among members on the Republican Governance Group about voting to kick her out of the moderate-leaning group.

It’s just one of many examples of the fallout from Tuesday’s stunning vote to remove the sitting speaker, which has reverberated through both sides of the Capitol and left a bitterly divided GOP scrambling to pick up the pieces. Much of the furor is directed at Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, the ringleader of the McCarthy rebellion. But Republicans are also turning their fire on their Democratic colleagues as well, furious that they sided with Gaetz to throw the House into chaos and let McCarthy be punished for funding the government with their votes.

And it all comes as a GOP leadership scramble to succeed McCarthy has begun to take shape, even as rank-and-file Republicans warn the speaker candidates that there is ample work that must be done to repair the frayed relations within their badly divided conference.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a North Dakota Republican and a close McCarthy ally, said there are a “lot of raw nerves” and that the next speaker candidates must make clear that they will “never” allow a single GOP member to oust a sitting speaker again.

“The next speaker better figure out how to negotiate with the exotics before you become speaker because you’re sure as hell gonna have to do it after you’re speaker,” Armstrong said.
“This isn’t a normal election,” he said of the speaker’s race. “And I think too many people are treating it like one.”

The high-stakes drama has not only sparked threats to remove GOP colleagues from the conference but also put key bipartisan working relationships in jeopardy ahead of another looming government funding deadline and prompted serious internal conversations about overhauling the House rules, further complicating any candidates’ bid to win the gavel.

“There was a meeting last night, as you may know, of Republicans and that room would have devolved into I think physical attacks on one another if people stayed in there for a long period of time,” said Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, a McCarthy ally. “People are mad … It is justified for them to be frustrated by what happened yesterday.”

Read more about the in-fighting within the House GOP

8:14 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Another GOP lawmaker says he's open to expelling Gaetz

From CNN's Sam Fossum, Manu Raju and Haley Talbot

Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks to reporters following a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol on October 3, 2023, in Washington, DC.
Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks to reporters following a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol on October 3, 2023, in Washington, DC. Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Another freshman Republican representative said he's open to expelling Rep. Matt Gaetz as he didn’t hold back in his criticism of the Florida Republican who led the charge to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and throw the chamber into paralysis.

Ohio Rep. Max Miller said Gaetz "is only doing this for himself and I believe that he should be looked at for an expulsion," but he added that he has not made up his mind on how he would vote.

“This guy doesn't have his ducks in a row. And that's what you see with people who lie. They can never keep their story straight. And that's what Matt is doing right now. He's going to continue to lie. But here's what I see ahead of us. I see that I believe that we need new leadership within this Congress," Miller told CNN.

Rep. Mike Lawler, a GOP freshman from a swing district in New York, also said he supports calls to expel Gaetz from the House.

Miller said that he thinks it’s going to be “incredibly tough” for the GOP to hold onto its majority after the actions of the last couple days.

"I'm gonna stand here and tell you by the actions that have taken place this week I'm not hopeful to keep the majority. I'm not hopeful to win back the Senate,” he said. 

Miller also said that he is “very firm” on limiting the powerful tool used by Gaetz to push McCarthy from the speakership. It currently just takes one member to use the tool to force a vote on ousting the speaker, which was something McCarthy agreed to back in January when he cut a deal with hardliners to win the speakership on the 15th round of voting.

Gaetz and other hardliners have insisted that any future speaker keep this rule in place. 

But more moderate members want the rule changed to raise the threshold so any one member can't cause deep instability to the institution and throw the chamber into a state of paralysis as Gaetz did in his successful push to oust McCarthy.

7:22 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Republican senators fear House chaos reflects poorly on GOP and undermines their ability to govern

From CNN's Sam Fossum and Manu Raju

GOP senators expressed concerns Wednesday that the paralysis in the House after eight hardliner Republicans joined with Democrats to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the speakership reflects poorly on the party and undermines their ability to govern. 

Senators also criticized the motion to vacate mechanism that gave Rep. Matt Gaetz the power to force a vote on ousting McCarthy.

Here's what some senators told CNN:

  • Sen. Kevin Cramer: “I think it makes the House Republican rebels look foolish. They look unserious. I think they look like they're more interested in fighting than governing." He added that “the rules are set up to make a Speaker fail … and this was a good example of how much power it gave to too few people.” 
  • Sen. John Cornyn: “It’s not an attractive picture, we’ve got to do better." He later added that what’s happening in the House has “pretty much guaranteed we’re going to be looking at another CR (continuing resolution) on November 17.”
  •  Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican, also highlighted the House’s “very real and very immediate challenges.”  She told CNN: “We in Congress have some work to do to restore the trust in this institution called Congress." Murkowski also said that the Senate must respond to the chaos in the House by moving their appropriations bills forward. 
  • Sen. Mike Rounds said that the hardliners who broke away to oust the Speaker “need to recognize” that the Speaker must have the power to negotiate with the other side of the aisle, especially in divided government. “Folks that ran as Republicans have to decide whether or not they want to act as a majority or act as a Republican party and a populist party,” Rounds said. “So now the question is, will the populists come back into the Republican fold?”
6:04 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Chamber of Commerce concerned about vacant speakership with government funding deadline ahead

From CNN’s Matt Egan

The United States Chamber of Commerce expressed deep concern on Wednesday about the historic ouster of Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives. 

Chief policy officer Neil Bradley said the leadership vacuum creates an “almost unprecedented level of uncertainty because there are things that must get done in the next 45 days.” 

Business groups, including the chamber, had been notably silent since Tuesday when McCarthy became the first speaker in US history to be ejected. 

“There are not just question marks. What happened with the motion to vacate was not a confidence-building measure,” Bradley, who previously served as a lieutenant to McCarthy, told CNN.

The ouster raises the risk of a government shutdown when funding lapses on November 17, he said, while also expressing concern about the impact on aid to Ukraine, a key priority for the business community. 

“Part of what advantages American business is American global leadership. Defending a free country like Ukraine is an important element in global leadership,” Bradley said. “To the extent that aid to Ukraine is being walked back, it begins to cede US global leadership — on all fronts.” 

Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the influential Partnership for New York City, which represents hundreds of NYC CEOs, expressed confidence in speaker pro tempore Patrick McHenry.

“New York City business has a long-standing relationship” with McHenry, Wylde told CNN in an email. “We are hopeful that he and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries will work together to restore constructive, bipartisan resolution of the budget and other key issues facing the country, including the migrant crisis.” 

The Business Roundtable, another powerful business group, declined requests to comment on the ouster of McCarthy. 

4:55 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

House minority leader says he will continue working on bipartisan efforts started by McCarthy

From CNN's Haley Talbot

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaks to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaks to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Tuesday. Craig Hudson/Sipa USA

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he will continue to work with Rep. Kevin McCarthy on initiatives put in place before he was removed as speaker.

Jeffries said he and McCarthy have had a "respectful, communicative and forward-looking relationship" since January, according to a statement.

He said McCarthy initiated the formation of a "bipartisan Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party," the statement said. Jeffries wrote he plans to continue to analyze the ties between the two countries.

As speaker, McCarthy also advocated for the "thoughtful examination of the rise of artificial intelligence" — something Jeffries said he will keep working on, according to the statement.

"On many occasions, we strongly disagreed with each other. However, we agreed to disagree without being personally disagreeable in order to find common ground whenever possible," Jeffries said.
4:25 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

McCarthy behind move to kick Pelosi out of her office, sources say – and now he’s taking it

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Jamie Gangel

Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Getty Images

Rep. Kevin McCarthy was behind interim Speaker Patrick McHenry’s move to kick former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of her office space, two Republican sources tell CNN. 

GOP Rep. Garret Graves told reporters Wednesday that McCarthy is getting the office that McHenry has ordered Pelosi to vacate. 

“Look the deal is that the office that Pelosi is in right now is the office of the preceding speaker. Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats determined that they wanted a new proceeding speaker, and it's Kevin McCarthy. So he's getting the office,” he said.

A source close to Pelosi says it was retaliation for Democrats siding against McCarthy in the speaker’s vote Tuesday. The unofficial offices are located near the House floor. 

Graves also blamed Democrats for voting McCarthy out of office.  

“I don't know what they're complaining about. They created this situation,” Graves said.

McCarthy and McHenry’s did not respond to requests for comment. 

3:44 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Sen. Schumer again attacks House GOP over ousting of McCarthy

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer leave a meeting with Senate Democrats at the Capitol Building on September 30, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer leave a meeting with Senate Democrats at the Capitol Building on September 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer again attacked House Republican infighting, saying that the move to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy is proof that GOP lawmakers should not have relied on the “hard MAGA right” for their majority.

“Yesterday, a small band of MAGA extremists plunged Congress into pandemonium. For the first time in history, the speaker has been removed from his position at the hands of radicals that he empowered from day one,” said Schumer.

“Speaker (John) Boehner, (Paul) Ryan and now McCarthy have all learned the same lesson: You cannot allow the hard right to run the House or to run the country, or you'll get chased out by that very same hard MAGA right,” he said, referring to former GOP speakers.

Schumer called for the next speaker to accept bipartisanship as the way forward, rather than relying solely on Republican votes for their policy proposals, and praised McCarthy for cutting deals to avoid a debt default and a government shutdown. 

“To his credit, I will say this. Speaker McCarthy, both on shutting down the government and on default of the debt, at the end of the day realized he had to work in a bipartisan way to do what's right for America. Well, the need for bipartisanship will not change – we’ll need bipartisanship to keep the government open.”

3:45 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

McConnell warns procedural tool used to oust McCarthy puts speaker in "hammerlock of dysfunction"

From CNN's Clare Foran and Morgan Rimmer

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with members of the media following passage of a short-term funding bill on September 30, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with members of the media following passage of a short-term funding bill on September 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell praised former Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday and urged whoever is the next speaker to get rid of the motion to vacate – the procedural tool that GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz used to force a vote to oust McCarthy.

McConnell warned that the procedural tool puts whoever serves as speaker “in a hammerlock of dysfunction.”  

“I have no advice to give to House Republicans expect one – I hope whoever the next speaker is gets rid of the motion to vacate. I think it makes the speaker’s job impossible. The American people expect us to have a functioning government,” he said at a GOP leadership news conference.

Asked if he’s concerned about funding the government with the House speakership in limbo, McConnell said, “Well I think the obvious answer is we need to get a speaker and hopefully we’ll get one by next week … to do that job, for anyone, you have to get rid of the motion to vacate because it puts whoever the speaker is in a hammerlock of dysfunction, potential dysfunction.”

McConnell declined to say if he has a preference for a particular speaker candidate and did not comment specifically on whether it bothers him that Rep. Jim Jordan has indicated he does not support further Ukraine aid.  

When asked those two questions, McConnell said, “Job one right now in the Senate is to get back on the appropriations bills, get as many finished the majority leader will let us. All of these other issues are not going away. They will be dealt with in due time.” 

2:42 p.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Rep. Lawler backs calls to expel Rep. Gaetz from House GOP conference

From CNN's Manu Raju and Haley Talbot

Rep. Mike Lawler, a GOP freshman from a swing district in New York, told CNN on Wednesday that he supports calls to expel Rep. Matt Gaetz from the House Republican conference.

Lawler called Gaetz's conduct “disgraceful," following the ouster Tuesday of Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

“In my opinion, yes,” he said when asked if he would support kicking the Florida lawmaker out of the House GOP.