Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was forced out as Speaker of the House on Tuesday after less than nine months in office — and after accomplishments that made him the most successful Republican speaker since Newt Gingrich.
Recent polls showed that he was the most popular member of Congress, that he had surged in approval since his tough battle for the gavel in January, and that he had also raised the public’s approval of Congress as a whole.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and other critics claimed, vaguely, that McCarthy had not fulfilled his promises, or had “lied” about something. But the most telling number was that there were 20 holdouts against McCarthy in January, while only eight remained in October.
Those eight — less than 4% of the Republican caucus — were enough, with the help of a united Democratic caucus, to oust McCarthy. And they did so after the following list of achievements.
1. Blocked the JCPA. The so-called “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act” would, as Breitbart News has reported, create ” a financial handout for the nation’s wealthiest and most powerful media conglomerates. … [and] a cartel, to force arbitration agreements on Big Tech companies … to give the media industry financial and other favors.” Fox News and the mainstream media backed it, to kill independent competition. McCarthy blocked it.
2. Avoided a government shutdown, without Ukraine funding. Congress seemed destined for a shutdown before last weekend. Republicans were almost certain to lose the messaging war, with millions of federal employees — including the military — waiting for paychecks while facing inflation and growing household debt. But McCarthy pulled out a 45-day continuing resolution — and did so without controversial funding for the war in Ukraine.
3. Forced President Joe Biden to negotiate on the debt ceiling. McCarthy called the White House’s bluff when it demanded a “clean” vote to raise the debt ceiling. While Republicans did not get everything they wanted, they arguably came out ahead deal, forcing cuts in several areas and clawing back unspent COVID-19 spending. McCarthy also put off the next debt ceiling fight until 2024, with a possible Republican Senate and White House.
4. Launched an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. McCarthy opened investigations into the Biden family’s influence peddling, as well as the Department of Justice’s foot-dragging in prosecuting Hunter Biden. While critics said he did not move fast enough, a snap impeachment would have smacked of pure politics. McCarthy convinced skeptics to change their minds — and subpoenas for the Bidens’ bank records had just been issued.
5. Booted antisemites and proven liars off congressional committees. McCarthy punished Democrats for breaking the rules in the last Congress, when they booted Republicans off committees for the first time, by kicking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) off the foreign affairs committee for antisemitism, and kicking Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) off the intelligence committee for lying to the public and abusing the public’s trust.
6. Restored House leadership in foreign affairs. McCarthy led a bipartisan delegation to Israel, receiving standing ovations as he addressed the Knesset — and providing a sharp contrast to the Biden administration’s effort to isolate Israel. More recently, he declined to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a second chance to address the House, as McCarthy pressed Biden for a clearer statement of war aims in the ongoing stalemate.
7. Released some January 6 tapes. Critics said that McCarthy fell short on a promise to release every second of surveillance footage of the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021 to the public. But he did release 41,000 hours to Tucker Carlson (then at Fox News), whose team studied the footage and uncovered new evidence that tended to exonerate some defendants. Ironically, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) praised McCarthy — “Bravo!” — for keeping his word.
8. Passed conservative bills. McCarthy passed bills to repeal Biden’s 87,000 new IRS agents; to secure the southern border; to promote domestic energy production; to protect the rights of parents in public schools; and many more. Few of these became law — there was the Democrat-run Senate to deal with — but McCarthy did get part of the way there: he forced Biden to agree to cut $21 billion of the new $80 billion in IRS funding, for example.
9. Kept his commitment on rules. McCarthy’s opponents claimed that he fell short on promises to post bills for 72 hours, and to pass individual appropriations bills. But the “suspension” bill he offered in the shutdown fight was a different motion requiring a two-thirds vote, and he tried to bring individual bills — which his critics opposed. In the end, he kept his commitment to allow one member to move to vacate the chair — which is why he is gone.C-SPAN
Democrats share blame for the chaos. McCarthy claimed Tuesday that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — who was absent for the funeral of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in California — had promised not to back his GOP critics if they tried to force him out. Ultimately, Democrats were unanimous in voting to oust McCarthy.
But Republicans must ask themselves why they allowed the most popular member of Congress to be ousted simply for doing his job.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.