House speaker vacancy live updates: Many in GOP want to do away with motion to vacate

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A showdown on Tuesday with a breakaway faction of his own party led by Rep. Matt Gaetz saw House Speaker Kevin McCarthy removed as leader of the chamber -- a historic development that signals chaos to come on Capitol Hill.

Now, the race is on to succeed him.

Two members of the House have officially thrown their hats in the ring. Republicans are said to be eyeing a speaker election next week.


Latest Developments


Oct 4, 5:09 PM

Jeffries wishes McCarthy well after ouster

Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries released a statement Wednesday wishing McCarthy well after he voted to remove him from speakership, and encouraged Democrats to do the same.

"Since January, Kevin and I have had a respectful, communicative and forward-looking relationship," Jeffries said. "On many occasions, we strongly disagreed with each other. However, we agreed to disagree without being personally disagreeable in order to find common ground whenever possible."

Jeffries commended McCarthy's initiatives on economic competition with China and artificial intelligence, stating that work should continue.

"I wish Speaker McCarthy, his family and dedicated staff Godspeed as he begins the next chapter in his public service and professional journey," Jeffries said.

-ABC's Lauren Peller


Oct 4, 4:11 PM

Many House Republicans want to do away with motion to vacate

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged House Republicans to do away with the motion to vacate, contending it "makes the Speakers' job impossible."

Many Republicans ABC News talked to on the House side agree with him. For some, it's a major factor in who they will support for speaker.

Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, said he'll back "the first one who starts talking about the fact we're not going to have a stupid rule anymore that allows one person to take a speaker out. That's ridiculous."

"It absolutely has to change," he added, noting if it doesn't, the GOP could find itself right back in this same position.

Even Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, says he's OK with changing the rule from a one-vote threshold back to a five-vote threshold to vacate.

"I'm fine with a five vote. If you can't get five Republicans to say the speaker should be vacated, then live with it. But I don't think the rules are the problem. I think the credibility of the former speaker was the real problem," he said.

-ABC's Mary Bruce


Oct 4, 3:20 PM

Biden expresses concern over Ukraine aid

In remarks about the speakership showdown, Biden said there is a "lot of work" to get done as Congress faces a Nov. 17 deadline to come to a funding deal or once again risk a shutdown.

"We cannot and should not again be faced with an 11th-hour decision, brinksmanship that threatens to shut down the government," Biden said.

He also expressed concern on the current state of future aid for Ukraine, admitting he's worried it may not happen.

"It does worry me," he said. "But I know there are a majority of members of the House and Senate in both parties who have said that they support funding Ukraine."

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on new Administration efforts to cancel student debt and support borrowers at the White House on Oct. 4, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on new Administration efforts to cancel student debt and support borrowers at the White House on Oct. 4, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

At least one lawmaker vying for speaker has long been opposed to additional Ukraine aid.

"I'm against that," Rep. Jim Jordan told reporters on Wednesday. "What I understand is at some point we're going to have to deal with this appropriation process in the right way and we're going to try to do that in the next -- what are we down to? Forty-one days. The most pressing issue on the mind of Americans is not Ukraine, it is the border situation."

-ABC's Molly Nagle, Justin Gomez and Mary Bruce


Oct 4, 3:16 PM

Read Scalise's letter on running for speaker

Scalise made his case for why he should be the next House speaker in a letter to colleagues on Wednesday.

In it, he called the Republican conference a "family" as he recounted the support he received when he was shot during congressional baseball practice in 2017 and suffered life-threatening injuries.

"God already gave me another chance at life," he wrote. "I believe we were all put here for a purpose. This next chapter won't be easy, but I know what it takes to fight and I am prepared for the battles that lie ahead."

Steve Scalise - Dear Colleague - October 4 2023 by ABC News Politics on Scribd


Oct 4, 2:00 PM

Biden: 'We need to change the poisonous atmosphere in Washington'

President Joe Biden weighed in for the first time on the ouster of McCarthy, calling on Congress to change the "poisonous atmosphere in Washington" and come together.

"More than anything we need to change the poisonous atmosphere in Washington. You know, we have strong disagreements, but we need to stop seeing each other as enemies. We need to talk to one another, listen to one another, work with one another. And we can do that," Biden urged while delivering remarks on student loans at the White House.

Biden said the GOP will need to "reorganize" and that it might "take some time" to select a new leader.

-ABC's Justin Gomez and Molly Nagle


Oct 4, 1:49 PM

Scalise enters speaker's race

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has officially entered the race to replace McCarthy.

The Louisiana Republican, in a lengthy letter to his colleagues on Wednesday, made a pitch for unity as he touted his work as the No. 2 House Republican.

"You know my leadership style I've displayed as your Majority Leader and Whip," he wrote. "I have a proven track record of bringing together the diverse array of viewpoints within our Conference to build consensus where others thought it impossible."

PHOTO:House Majority Leader Steve Scalise arrives for a House Republican party conference after Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the position of Speaker by a House vote of 216-210, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Oct. 3, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
PHOTO:House Majority Leader Steve Scalise arrives for a House Republican party conference after Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the position of Speaker by a House vote of 216-210, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Oct. 3, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

"Our strength as a Conference comes from our unity, and we have seen when we unite as a Conference, we can deliver wins for the American people," he wrote. "Now we need to take those unified positions and work to extract conservative wins from the Democrat Senate and White House by leveraging upcoming deadlines. While we need to be realistic about what can be achieved, if we stay united, we can preserve leverage for the House to secure tangible wins in our impending policy fights."


Oct 4, 11:48 AM

Read Jordan's letter announcing bid: Time for GOP to 'come together'

Rep. Jim Jordan has sent a letter to colleagues announcing his speakership bid.

"We are at a critical crossroad in our nation's history," he wrote. "Now is the time for our Republican conference to come together to keep our promises to Americans."

Jim Jordan Letter Speaker by ABC News Politics on Scribd


Oct 4, 11:34 AM

McConnell pays tribute to McCarthy

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he is keenly aware of the thankless work it takes to be a Congressional leader as he praised McCarthy in a floor speech.

“I’ve said before, in reference to my own position, that being the leader of your party in the Senate is much like being the groundskeeper at a cemetery. Everybody’s under you, but no one’s listening," McConnell said, adding: “Of course, I doubt that Kevin McCarthy has ever seen himself as above anyone else."

McConnell praised McCarthy's willingness to dive "head first" into worthwhile fights, calling him a trusted and honest partner in leading the GOP caucus.

“He didn’t hesitate to get his hands dirty. When circumstances were tough, he drew on his faith, his family and his belief in American exceptionalism," McConnell said.

“And I’m not sure anyone could have predicted just how much these qualities would come in handy over the past nine months," he said.

-ABC's Mariam Khan


Oct 4, 11:09 AM

Jim Jordan says he's running for speaker

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told reporters Wednesday morning that he is running for speaker of the House -- the first member to publicly throw their hat in the ring.

Jordan, a top Trump ally and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has ruled out running for speaker in the past.

Jordan said Wednesday morning that the messages and phone calls of support he has received so far "seems strong."

PHOTO: Representative Jim Jordan speaks as he attends a House Oversight and Accountability Committee impeachment inquiry hearing into U.S. President Joe Biden, focused on his son Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings, in Washington, Sept. 28, 2023. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
PHOTO: Representative Jim Jordan speaks as he attends a House Oversight and Accountability Committee impeachment inquiry hearing into U.S. President Joe Biden, focused on his son Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings, in Washington, Sept. 28, 2023. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)


"I think the key is to unite the conference," Jordan said. "I think I can."

In addition to Jordan, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has begun making calls to gauge support as has Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern.

-ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Arthur Jones


Oct 4, 10:55 AM

Trump for speaker?

Former President Donald Trump, arriving to court for the third day of his civil fraud trial, commented on the speaker's race -- specifically, the calls from some hard-line conservatives such as Marjorie Taylor Greene for him to serve in the role.

"I'll do whatever it is to help. But my focus, my total focus is being president," he told reporters.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media before entering the courtroom at New York Supreme Court, Oct. 4, 2023, in New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media before entering the courtroom at New York Supreme Court, Oct. 4, 2023, in New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

It's not the first time we've heard Trump's name floated for the position. Back in January, amid McCarthy's fraught battle for the gavel, Gaetz actually cast a ballot for Trump during one of the 15 rounds of voting.

It would technically be possible because the Constitution doesn't specify that the person be a current member or member-elect, but it's not likely.

Trump didn't say who he would like to see succeed McCarthy but said, "We have some great people in the Republican Party that could do a great job as speaker."

-ABC's Lalee Ibssa, Soorin Kim and Kendall Ross

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