Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has declared his resignation from Congress, effective at the end of the year. The decision comes after weeks of speculation about McCarthy’s political future following his removal from the House Speaker role in October.
McCarthy shared his decision in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, stating, “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.”
His departure adds to a growing trend of retirements among lawmakers, reflecting the increasing polarization that has hindered congressional operations. Just a day before McCarthy’s announcement, Representative Patrick McHenry, who briefly took on the role of temporary speaker after McCarthy’s ouster, also revealed his plans to leave Congress.
With McCarthy’s exit, the Republican majority, already reduced to eight seats after the expulsion of Rep. George Santos, will now shrink to seven. A special election for Santos’ seat is scheduled for Feb. 13, with the Cook Political Report considering the district a toss-up.
McCarthy, who represents California’s 20th District, a traditionally conservative area, recently conveyed his contemplation about the future, stating at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit, “If I decide to run again, I have to know in my heart I’m giving 110%.”
McCarthy’s speakership was marked by turbulence, lasting only nine months. A deal he struck to secure the position led to his downfall, as he agreed to a rule allowing a no-confidence vote to remove the speaker, a move that ultimately led to his historic ouster in September. His successor, House Speaker Mike Johnson, has faced similar challenges but has managed to avoid McCarthy’s fate.
The former speaker has not concealed his dissatisfaction with Republicans who supported his removal, expressing strong opinions about their political future. McCarthy’s departure leaves a void in the political landscape, and his next steps will be closely watched as the nation navigates a complex and polarized political environment.