Rep. Kevin McCarthy Announces Retirement from Congress at Year’s EndDecember 6, 2023
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who had a tortured 269-day run as House speaker before far-right GOP rebels booted him from his post, said Wednesday that he would leave Congress at the end of this month.
“It is time to pursue my passion in a new arena,” McCarthy, 58, said in a video he posted on social media. “While I will be departing the House at the end of this year, I will never, ever give up fighting for this country that I love so much.”
He did not say what he planned to do next, but he suggested in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that he would remain politically active. McCarthy voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election won by President Biden. But McCarthy was still seen as too moderate a voice for his party’s conservative fringe, which voted him out of the speakership in the fall after he reached a compromise with Democrats to keep the government open.
He has served nine terms in Congress, and long had his eyes on the speakership. But his rise to the House’s most powerful post was complicated by disunity within his party and the narrow margin it captured in the chamber in the midterm elections. It took McCarthy five dramatic days, 15 votes and untold failed negotiations before his colleagues elected him as their leader in January, reaching the speakership after making concessions to Republican hard-liners that left him deeply weakened. McCarthy joins a wave of lawmakers who plan to leave the House. Another Republican, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, said Tuesday that he did not intend to run for reelection next year. Earlier this year, McHenry served as a symbol of GOP frustration when he became acting speaker after McCarthy’s ouster. Video of the gavel slam became a meme.