• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


Updated Dec 6, 2023, 1:05pm EST
politicsNorth America
icon

Semafor Signals

Kevin McCarthy will leave Congress at the end of the year

Kevin McCarthy
REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

Former House Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy says he will leave Congress at the end of this year.

“I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways. I know my work is only getting started,” McCarthy wrote in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

AD

McCarthy faced a tumultuous eight-month tenure as speaker: He is the first to ever be removed from power. That campaign was led, in part, by Rep. Matt Gaetz, who simply wrote “McLeavin’” on X after McCarthy’s announcement.

Shortly after his ouster, there was widespread speculation that the California congressman would soon exit Congress. But McCarthy downplayed the claims in October, telling reporters that he had “a lot more work to do.”

Privately, however, McCarthy apparently told donors that he was planning to ”get the hell out,” Axios reported last week, citing sources.

AD

— with J.D. Capelouto, Kadia Goba, and David Weigel

icon

SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

The former speaker’s departure puts the House Republicans’ majority further at risk by shrinking their lead to just a two-member majority following George Santos’s expulsion, Semafor’s Kadia Goba writes. Rep. Bill Johnson accepted an offer to head Youngstown State University, but hasn’t made it clear when he’ll depart. Some Republican members had expressed frustration with Santos’s expulsion vote last month, saying it would further compromise the majority. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called it “a bad strategy.”

McCarthy’s speakership seemed doomed from the start. He secured a historically low majority when elected in January, and was deeply unpopular with much of Congress when compared with others who secured the job, CNN noted. McCarthy is the first speaker in history to have been ousted from the role, and that was due in part to a revolt from his own party. He served the third-shortest speakership in history, and the shortest since 1875.

While he reportedly clashed with former President Donald Trump behind the scenes, McCarthy reaffirmed Trump’s standing as the de facto leader of the Republican Party and helped rehabilitate him after the 2020 election and Jan. 6 riot, Peter Wehner wrote in The Atlantic after McCarthy’s ouster. Central to his legacy is “his role in reckless attacks on crucial American institutions,” including the Justice department and the electoral system. He was also highly regarded as a master fundraiser within the party. ”I don’t know who else can step into that role,” a California GOP strategist told ABC. California Gov. Gavin Newsom told Semafor’s Dave Weigel last week that McCarthy “was a pretty effective campaigner in these key districts. He was proximate, and he had the resources.”

Semafor Logo
AD