The speaker of the US House of Representatives - the lower house of Congress - Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday predictably lost his post under pressure from the far-right wing of his Republican Party, when he was accused of cooperating with Democrats and a “secret deal” to help Ukraine.
McCarthy’s decision to resign was supported by 216 members of the House of Representatives, including 8 members of the Republican Party, with 210 congressmen opposed.
For the first time in the history of the United States, the speaker of the lower house of Congress was removed from office by a motion to vacate, which allows a certain number of congressmen to put the relevant issue to a vote. In addition, the last time the vote to remove the Speaker of the House took place more than 110 years ago. Kevin McCarthy became Speaker of the House of Representatives only at the 15th attempt in January 2023 after signing an agreement with far-right Republicans. Among other things, it stipulated that a motion to vacate could be initiated by only one congressman.
This procedure became a leverage for the far-right to influence McCarthy, because - as Tuesday’s vote showed - the Democratic Party would not support the Speaker if the issue of his resignation was brought up. McCarthy’s resignation was spearheaded by Matt Gaetz of the far-right wing of his party, who expressed outrage at the passage of a resolution for temporary federal funding to avoid a shutdown at the expense of Democratic votes.
Although this resolution did not include funding for aid to Ukraine, Gaetz claimed McCarthy allegedly made a “secret agreement” with US President Joe Biden to approve support for Kyiv in its fight against full-scale Russian aggression.
It is known that McCarthy does not oppose to providing Ukraine with military and other aid - unlike his far-right “colleagues” - but he publicly demanded that Biden’s administration guarantee accountability for the funds spent and that the Ukrainian side provide a “plan to win” the war.
Following McCarthy’s resignation, his position will be temporarily filled by Republican Patrick McHenry, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who voted against the speaker’s dismissal.
The House begins the process of electing a new permanent chairman. It is impossible to predict how long it will take, since Republicans have a slim majority - 221 to 212 for Democrats - and the votes of only five of them are enough to block any appointment.
We should note that the White House expressed confidence before the vote that despite the situation with McCarthy’s removal from office, Congress will be able to support additional funding for Ukraine’s defense needs.
Now, as reported, $1.6 billion of the $25.9 billion allocated by Congress to replenish the stockpile of weapons that went to Ukraine remains. In addition, the US has about $5.4 billion left to supply weapons and equipment from its stockpile. The US would have already exhausted these funds if the Pentagon had not realized at the beginning of the year that it had overestimated already shipped equipment.