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Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy leaving Congress this year, will not run for reelection in 2024

WASHINGTON − Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is resigning from Congress early and will not run for reelection next year, punctuating a historic Capitol Hill career after 15 rounds of voting to become speaker in January and getting ousted 10 months later by a conservative rebellion.

"I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways. I know my work is only getting started," McCarthy said in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Though McCarthy’s next steps are uncertain, he has promised to stay involved in Republican politics.The California Republican declined to make another bid for the gavel after being removed as speaker in October.

"I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office. The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders," McCarthy said.

Eight Republicans voted with House Democrats in October to remove the California Republican from his leadership post.

When one of the eight GOP members who voted to oust McCarthy, Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., was asked by USA TODAY what he thought about McCarthy's departure, he smiled: "I thank him for his service and wish him well."

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during the New York Times annual DealBook summit on November 29, 2023 in New York City.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during the New York Times annual DealBook summit on November 29, 2023 in New York City.

Regardless of his ouster, McCarthy, in a video after his announcement, said he is "proud of what we have accomplished," touting the bipartisan debt ceiling agreement he struck with President Joe Biden to avert a catastrophic default and his efforts to avoid a government shutdown. Both of those deals played a role in his eventual removal from the speakership by a conservative rebellion."

"Simply put, we did the right thing," McCarthy said.

Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., an outspoken McCarthy supporter during the speaker contest after his removal, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that McCarthy "is a leader of conviction and I have been proud to stand alongside him."

"We will miss you on the House Floor, my friend," Gimenez said.

McCarthy's fellow California Republican, Rep. Kevin Kiley, said the former speaker is "irreplaceable in terms of the value that he brought to our delegation and the entire conference."

Matt Gaetz, the Florida conservative who led the efforts to force McCarthy out of the speakership, wrote on X: "McLeavin.'"

McCarthy's departure also further narrows the razor-thin GOP majority in the House. After his resignation, Republicans will control the lower chamber by just a three-seat margin, further complicating House Speaker Mike Johnson's bid to pass conservative legislation.

After McCarthy's departure from Congress, California Gov. Gavin Newsom must declare a special election to fill the vacancy within 14 days, according to California law. After that declaration, the special election must be held within 126 to 140 days. McCarthy's seat is considered a safe Republican district, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a conservative firebrand who became an ally of McCarthy's during his speakership, alluded to the thin majority Republicans will have to work with next year in a post on X.

"Hopefully no one dies," Greene said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy will leave Congress at end of year