NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R – Calif.) was ousted from his position this week, the first time in American history the Speaker has been removed.
One of Tennessee’s representatives in the House had a hand in the historic decision. Rep. Tim Burchett, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, broke ranks with the majority of Republicans and joined the Democrats in ousting the California Republican.
“This was a tough decision,” Burchett said in a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter). “I voted for McCarthy for Speaker of the House back in January and I consider him a friend. However, I had to vote for what I think is best for the American people. We need leadership that will take real action to address our country’s serious financial crisis and steer us in a better direction, and we shouldn’t settle for anything less than that.”
While Burchett chose to oust McCarthy, the majority of Tennessee’s Republican Representatives stuck with the now-former Speaker, including Rep. John Rose, who represents the 6th Congressional District.
“The House is 435 individuals. The founders of the country set it up that way. It’s hard to get consensus. Leader McCarthy, working with the four-seat Republican majority, I think had succeeded in remarkable accomplishments,” he told News 2. “That said, we didn’t get the appropriations process finished by September 30th. We made great progress. We made more progress than has been made in recent years.”
Rose added it was time to look forward on work and pressing issues, not on individuals like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz or other Republicans who voted McCarthy out. He said he is concerned Republicans are squandering momentum on issues like spending and border security.
“When we’re spending time with in-fighting and battling one another, we’re not getting the American people’s work done,” he said. “I think that’s one of the principal reasons why we should not have taken our general out in the middle of the battle.”
Other Tennessee Republicans thanked McCarthy for his leadership over the last nine months and chided their fellow Republicans for the constant in-fighting.
“For the first time in nearly three decades, the House was on a path to fund the government through individual appropriations bills. House Republicans made a promise to the American People to fight out-of-control government spending and the destructive agenda of the Biden administration. It is shameful that instead of keeping that promise and focusing on the issues that impact everyday Americans, we have chose to air personal grievances and fight amongst each other. I wish that Republicans were this determined to fight against the Democrats’ disastrous policies, instead of attacking one another.” Rep. Diana Harshbarger (TN – 01)
“I want to thank Kevin McCarthy for his leadership as Speaker of the House over the last nine months. The American people elected House Republicans to fix the Biden Administration’s and Democrats’ abysmal record of soaring inflation, high crime, open borders, expensive gas, and weakness at home and abroad. I’m proud that under Speaker McCarthy, Republicans passed the strongest border security bill and largest spending cut in American history, work requirements for welfare, and passed bills to empower parents, support police and strengthen America’s domestic energy production.” Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (TN – 03)
“Conservatives have never been more empowered on Capitol Hill than under Speaker McCarthy. By vacating the position of Speaker of the House, all that progress comes to a halt. That’s why I voted against the motion to vacate. Our nation is experiencing severe decline under President Biden. Record deficits, record debt, rampant inflation, and a vacuum of presidential leadership leaves America extremely vulnerable. President Reagan once said that the person who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20% traitor. We must focus our attention on holding President Biden accountable, not fighting each other.” — Rep. Mark Green (TN – 07)
“I thank Kevin McCarthy for his steadfast leadership guiding the U.S. House of Representatives. Over these last nine months, former Speaker McCarthy helped us pass strong border protection initiatives, a Parents’ Bill of Rights, domestic energy production legislation, and historic conservative spending cuts. I appreciate Kevin McCarthy’s record of dedicated public service and leadership.” — Rep. David Kustoff (TN – 08)
Tennessee’s lone Democratic Congressman, Steve Cohen of Memphis, joined Burchett in voting to vacate the Speaker, saying McCarthy showed weakness in his position and fostered no goodwill among his caucus.
“Unfortunately, #KevinMcCarthy does not have any good will, nor has has established any confidence among the Democratic caucus. Too many instances of misdeeds, untruths, and weakness in defending democracy,” he said in a statement on X.
TN-05 Congressman Andy Ogles only offered an explanation as to why he did not support the motion to vacate, neither castigating the former Speaker nor thanking him for his leadership.
“I share the frustrations and disappointment surrounding McCarthy’s leadership. However, I cannot, in good conscience, act rashly and without proper consideration of the consequences,” he said in part in a statement posted to X. “A team might fire a coach at the end of the season but would not do it mid-game. I think House Republicans are in a similar position; the game we need to win right now is funding the government through regular order.”
The House is set to reconvene Tuesday to begin the process of selecting the next Speaker. Rep. Jim Jordan (R—Ohio) has thrown his hat in the ring for the position, as has Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R – La).