Kevin McCarthy to resign from US Congress, weeks after being ousted as Speaker

Californian politician says he will remain engaged in Republican Party politics

Former US House of Representatives speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted from the role in October, is to resign from the US Congress.

In an opinion article for the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday Mr McCarthy said he would step down at the end of the year. He said he planned to remain engaged in Republican Party politics, but intended to serve the United States “in new ways”.

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

Mr McCarthy’s departure from Congress will reduce even further the Republicans’ tiny majority in the House of Representatives. It fell from four votes to three after the expulsion of controversial Republican congressman George Santos from the House last week.

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Opposition Democrats are expected to make a significant push to try capture the seat held by Mr Santos in an area of New York that backed Joe Biden for president in 2020.

Mr McCarthy, who represents a constituency in California, made the announcement about his political future just days before the deadline in the state for filing documentation to stand for election next year. He was elected speaker of the House – a very powerful position in US politics, next in the line of succession to the presidency after the vice president – last January after 15 rounds of voting.

However, given the Republicans’ tiny majority and deep divisions within his parliamentary party, governing was always going to be difficult. To secure the speakership, he had been forced to accept a change of rules to make it easier for his critics in the House to mount a challenge against him.

As part of a row over dealing with Democrats to support a government budget for next year, a group of right wing Republicans in the House moved against Mr McCarthy and forced him out.

Several weeks of chaos in the chamber ensued as Republicans could not agree on a candidate to replace Mr McCarthy as speaker.

In his opinion article on Wednesday he defended his record.

“Even with slim margins in the House, we passed legislation to secure the border, achieve energy independence, reduce crime, hold government accountable and establish a parents’ bill of rights. We did exactly what we said we would do.

“We kept our eyes on America’s long-term global challenges by restoring the intelligence committee to its original charter and establishing a bipartisan select committee on the Chinese Communist Party.”

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Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent