Kevin McCarthy To Retire From House After Losing Speakership
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is seen outside a House Republican Conference speaker election meeting in Longworth Building on Tuesday, October 24, 2023.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced on Wednesday that he will retire from the House by the close of 2023 after losing the speakership back in October.

“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 said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

McCarthy, who represents the 20th Congressional District in California, was first elected to Congress in 2006 and worked his way up the GOP ranks while becoming a fundraising powerhouse.

He won the speaker’s gavel in the 15th round of voting in January, but only after making concessions, such as restoring the ability of a single member to trigger the process that would lead to such a no-confidence vote.

Citing frustrations with McCarthy’s leadership, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filed a “motion to vacate the chair” in early October after the House passed a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown.

Gaetz and seven other Republicans joined with Democrats in a 216-210 vote that ousted McCarthy. The GOP-led House elected Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) as its 56th speaker in late October, ending a weeks-long stalemate.

Upon losing the speakership, McCarthy assured reporters that “yes” he would seek re-election and said he would not resign, asserting that he had “a lot more work to do.” But the California Republican recently began to signal that he was reassessing his future plans.

In his op-ed on Wednesday, McCarthy touted his accomplishments, including helping Republicans win the majority in the House and passing various bills — including the spending legislation that preceded his ouster as speaker.

“No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. That may seem out of fashion in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country,” he wrote.

More than a couple dozen House members have announced that they will not seek another two-year term in new year’s elections. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who served as temporary House speaker during a leadership fight this fall and is seen as a close McCarthy ally, announced on Tuesday that he will pass up a 2024 re-election bid.

McCarthy leaving early means the GOP’s majority in the House, in which Republicans only have a handful more members than the Democrats, gets narrower after the chamber voted to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY) last week. A special election to replace Santos for the remainder of his term is set for mid-February. Another special election for McCarthy’s seat could soon be scheduled too.

Looking forward, McCarthy said, “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.”

David Giglio, a businessman who is running to take McCarthy’s seat as an “America First” candidate aligned with former President Donald Trump, issued a statement on Wednesday warning that McCarthy is looking to “wield power and influence behind the scenes through a handpicked successor.”

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