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Has a Speaker of the House ever been voted out?

Eight members of the extreme wing of the GOP ousted fellow Republican Kevin McCarthy from the speakership. How many Speakers have lost the gavel before?

Speakers of the House who have faced ouster

Kevin McCarthy cut a deal with the extreme wing of the GOP to become Speaker of the House. Part of that was a rule allowing just one member to force a vote on a motion to vacate the speakership. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida file such a resolution on Monday after McCarthy had to get Democratic votes over the weekend to avert a government shutdown.

The House of Representatives decided the fate of McCarthy on Tuesday with eight of the GOP hardliners voting ‘yea’ along with all 208 Democrats present. The final tally was 216 to 210 to strip the gavel from McCarthy. Now the lower chamber will have to elect a new speaker in the coming days with Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina is the Speaker pro tempore in the meantime.

Has a Speaker of the House ever been voted out?

McCarthy has become the first Speaker of the House in US history to be ousted from the job via a motion to vacate. However, he is not the first to have to face a resolution to remove him from the position.

Republican Speaker Joseph Cannon was the first to face a vote on such a motion in 1910. Cannon called on his colleagues to remove him from the top job to put his detractors on the record who had just taken away his chairmanship of the House Rules Committee. He used both positions to rule with an iron fist over the lower chamber earning the nickname “Czar Cannon.”

He ended up keeping the speakership but the infighting in his party led to Democrats taking control of the House a few months later in the Midterm elections.

Other speakers have faced threats from within their party like Newt Gingrich in 1998 and John Boehner in 2015 but resigned before it came to a head. Boehner nearly faced a vote when then-Rep. Mark Meadows filed a resolution to force a vote on his speakership, but it was never taken up for consideration on the House floor.

Who is the shortest serving Speaker of the House ever?

While having served as Speaker of the House for nearly 10 months, McCarthy’s wasn’t the shortest speakership on record. That honor goes to Theodore Pomeroy of New York who served as Speaker for just one day 3 March 1869. The previous holder of the gavel Schuyler Colfax had resigned to become the Vice President of Ulysses S Grant. Pomeroy, who was well liked by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, had already planned to retire the day after he was elected to “the most honorable position” when the 40th Congress was dissolved.

McCarthy’s speakership is, however, the third shortest on record in the US House of Representatives. The second shortest was that of Speaker Michael C Kerr who served from 6 December 1875 until 19 August 1876 when he died of consumption.