Kevin McCarthy Likely to Leave Congress

The unworkable Republican caucus is about to get less workable.

Axios (“GOP speculation mounts that McCarthy will exit Congress early“):

Multiple GOP lawmakers expect former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to step down from his seat before the end of the year, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The potential exit of McCarthy — who privately told donors he is looking to “get the hell out,” according to a source familiar with the conversation — could leave the House GOP with an even narrower majority.

  • “I have another week or so to decide because if I decide to run again, I have to know in my heart I’m giving 110%,” McCarthy said at The New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday, referring to California’s Dec. 8 filing deadline.
  • “I have to know that I want to do that. I also have to know if I’m going to walk away, that I’m going to be fine with walking away. And so I’m really taking this time now,” he said.

Zoom in: Speculation over McCarthy’s potential departure escalated ahead of the Thanksgiving recess, with multiple GOP sources noting he posted a photo on Instagram in which his district office appeared to be in the process of being packed.

  • Multiple Republicans raised concerns that California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom could hold McCarthy’s seat open if he decides to resign in the new year.
  • The GOP’s razor-thin majority is already on the verge of being diminished further by the potential expulsion of Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) in a vote expected on Friday.

The rest of the piece is basically about how McCarthy isn’t having much fun being a rank-and-file Member after having been Speaker. One imagines.

But the key is that, if he leaves and Santos is (finally!) expelled, the Republican margin will be down to two. Considering the inability of successive Speakers to manage the caucus as it is, that’s simply going to add to the headache. There’s really going to be no way to get things done without working with the Democrats.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Don’t let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out.

    3, 2, 1 Start the Hakeem Jeffries could be the next speaker speculation. It will only take 2 GOP defectors.

  2. EddieInCA says:

    As Jason Chaffetz, Adam Kingzinger, Trey Gowdy, and others have figured out, one can make much more money with less headache and stress being a pundit than being an actual member of congress.

    He’ll land a cushy job at Fox or CNN, and become a big money Director on a few boards for GOP money men, and he’ll be end up very well off.

    Bye Kevin.

  3. Matt Bernius says:

    Not much to add other than, under a more democratic election system, the Republicans might actually have to change behavior when faced with this level of failure and party dysfunction.

    But since we live in the US, they are apparently leaning into the disfunction as members are pushing for a vote on a Biden impeachment inquiry that would take place in an election year.

  4. Kathy says:

    Once he didn’t leave Congress feet first on January 6, everything else is gravy.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    It will only take 2 GOP defectors

    This assumes both McCarthy and Santos leaves. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  6. Not the IT Dept. says:

    A career unblemished by achievement. Good riddance.

  7. Beth says:


    Santos might actually go cause he’s expendable (“gaaaaaaaay”) and the NY Republicans are terrified he’s going to be a boat anchor around their necks.

    McCarthy is almost certainly gone, especially if Santos goes, because the one thing Republicans love more than anything thing else is pathetically and pointlessly screwing over other Republicans.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: @Beth: If Santos gets the boot, I expect McCarthy will finish out this term.

  9. Beth says:


    Lol, who has Venmo and can be trusted to hold the pot? I got $10 that says Santos gets the boot and McCarthy quits on or before 11:59 on 12/31.

    Lol, a sort of political tontine.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Beth: Heh, not me.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Beth: I wouldn’t take that bet on either side. Who the hell knows what these clowns will do at any given moment?

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I don’t gamble, so if I take a bet I know something the other doesn’t.

  13. de stijl says:

    What are the odds he decks Gaetz on his way out the door?

  14. Pete S says:

    @de stijl: @Beth:
    Somewhere there is a parlay to be had here…

  15. Kathy says:


    I can be trusted to hold the pot, and never, ever let it go, no matter what people call me or what the contractual obligation was supposed to be.

    But I don’t have that app on my phone.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    I only bet against the odds. There’s no glory in safe bets.

  17. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Pete S:

    When you say parlay, this comes to mind.

  18. Gustopher says:

    I’m shocked he has lasted this long, honestly.

  19. Beth says:


    That’s what makes it exciting! They are just as likely to get kicked out/leave as they are to randomly have sex with each other on the house floor.

    @de stijl:

    He would never in a million years do something that cool. Also, I’m certain that if he tried Gaetz would beat his ass in. He might be the only person who’s ass I’m certain Gaetz could kick.


    I’m not. He’s fundamentally a coward. This is a cowards way out.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    We’re going to have a bitch of a hard time holding onto the Senate. If I may indulge in a sports metaphor, the Republicans will start at our five yard line. I may have to go knock on doors in parts of Vegas where the tourists don’t go for Jacky Rosen.

    But we have an excellent shot at the House.

  21. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We’re going to have a bitch of a hard time holding onto the Senate.

    I mean, all we have to do is hold off a challenger in increasingly looney-tunes red Ohio, hold off a challenger in increasingly red (but slightly less looney tunes) Montana, continue to build on AZ’s purpleish momentum, and then find someone who has Manchin’s ability to overcome a 30 point deficit in WV. If that doesn’t work, we can just do what we haven’t done in 30+ years and get Texans to elect a statewide Dem, while finding pockets of, lets say, 1,250,000 previously unknown Dem voters in Florida.

    Probably a 59-41 Dem Senate once the dust settles.

  22. Tony W says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Or a single GOP member could switch to D and we’d be 50/50!