Biden tries to keep calm amid GOP chaos

McCarthy ousted as House speaker in historic vote

In a stunning turn of events, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was removed as House speaker on Tuesday by a majority vote of his own party members. This is the first time in US history that a speaker has been ousted by a vote of no confidence from the House floor. McCarthy, who had been speaker since 2019, faced growing criticism from the hard-right faction of the GOP for his handling of the government funding crisis and his perceived lack of loyalty to former President Donald Trump.

The vote to remove McCarthy was initiated by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a vocal Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist, who accused McCarthy of being a “weak leader” and a “RINO” (Republican in name only). Greene claimed that McCarthy had betrayed Trump and the Republican base by agreeing to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a government shutdown last month. She also accused him of failing to defend Trump from the ongoing investigations into his role in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Greene was joined by 117 other Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, while 111 Republicans voted to keep him. The Democrats, who hold a slim majority in the House, abstained from the vote, saying it was an internal matter for the GOP. The vote left the House in a state of limbo, as no clear successor emerged to fill the vacant speaker’s chair.

Biden tries to keep calm amid GOP chaos

McHenry becomes interim speaker amid power struggle

After McCarthy’s removal, the House voted to elect Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) as the interim speaker until a permanent replacement is chosen. McHenry, who is the ranking member of the Financial Services Committee and a close ally of McCarthy, was seen as a compromise candidate who could bridge the gap between the moderate and conservative wings of the GOP. McHenry said he accepted the interim role with “great reluctance” and vowed to work with both parties to ensure the smooth functioning of the House.

However, McHenry’s tenure as interim speaker may be short-lived, as several Republicans have already announced their intention to run for the permanent position. Among them are Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a founding member of the Freedom Caucus and a staunch Trump loyalist; Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a vocal critic of Trump and one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach him; and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House minority whip and a popular figure among the GOP rank and file.

The race for the speakership is expected to be fierce and divisive, as each candidate represents a different vision for the future of the GOP. The election will also have significant implications for President Joe Biden’s agenda, as the speaker controls what bills come to the floor and how much cooperation there is with the White House.

Biden maintains ‘business as usual’ tone despite GOP turmoil

While the GOP is embroiled in an unprecedented leadership crisis, President Joe Biden has tried to maintain a ‘business as usual’ tone and focus on his policy priorities. On Wednesday, Biden spoke about his efforts to forgive student loans, as borrower payments restart this week for the first time in more than three years. Biden said he had directed the Education Department to extend relief for more than 300,000 borrowers with disabilities and streamline the process for income-driven repayment plans.

Biden also used his remarks to lament the division in Washington and call for bipartisanship. “We need to change the poisonous atmosphere in Washington,” Biden said. “Now we have strong disagreements, but we need to stop seeing each other as enemies.”

The White House has tried to project calm and confidence amid the chaos on Capitol Hill, saying it will continue to work with whoever is in charge of the House. Officials said they are hopeful that some progress can be made on Biden’s economic agenda, which includes a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion social spending package.

However, Biden’s campaign and national Democrats have not missed the opportunity to highlight the GOP’s disarray and contrast it with Biden’s work. The Democratic National Committee called the GOP a “three-ring circus” in a post on social media accompanied by an image of a clown face. The Biden campaign’s rapid response account also posted several messages mocking the Republicans for their infighting and lack of direction.

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