WASHINGTON — Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who became the first speaker to be ousted from office midway through a congressional term, announced Wednesday that he will resign at the end of this month.
His departure is a blow to his successor, Speaker Mike Johnson, and House Republicans, further reducing an already narrow GOP majority and making it even more challenging to pass legislation in 2024.
“Regardless of odds or personal costs, we did the right thing. That may seem unusual in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country,” McCarthy, R-Calif., wrote. A op-ed In The Wall Street Journal.
“I have decided to leave the church at the end of this year to serve in new ways in America. I know my work has just begun,” he said.
“I will continue to recruit our nation’s best and brightest to run for elected office,” McCarthy added. “The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to offering my experience to support the next generation of leaders.”
According to McCarthy’s timeline, he will leave before a Feb. 13 special election to replace ousted Rep. Jorge Santos and cut the Republican majority to 220 members to 213 Democrats. That means House Republicans are just three votes away from having to pass Democratic-backed measures.
McCarthy linked his retirement announcement with a video on X.
“I sit here today having served as your whip, as your leader, and as the 55th Speaker of the House,” he says in the video, citing a list of accomplishments he’s proud of. “We ran our government and paid our troops when wars broke out all over the world. … I have faith in this country.”
“Now, it’s time to pursue my passion in a new arena,” McCarthy said, without elaborating on his next move.
McCarthy was ousted as speaker on October 3, and a contentious contest ensued to replace him. Representative. Matt Gates, R-Fla. Led by eight Republican rebels, the Speaker was forced out for the first time in history. Later that night, McCarthy said he feared “the institution will fall today” and that he had made a mistake in helping elect some of those eight GOP lawmakers.
Some McCarthy allies warned that House vacancies could spell trouble for Republicans in the new year.
“Congratulations on the Freedom Caucus for one and 105 delegates kicking out our own for another,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., said In X. “I promise the Republican voters didn’t give us the majority to crash the ship. I hope no one dies.”
McCarthy’s departure has been long-awaited since his ouster, although his decision to leave before the end of his term will create new headaches for his party.
He represents a solidly Republican district in Bakersfield, California, that his party is likely to capture when it goes before voters again.