McCarthy narrowly reached the presidency after a group of right-wing Republicans thwarted his election bids, putting the U.S. government in a difficult position not seen in the United States since the pre-Civil War era.

The group of 20 hardline Republican lawmakers refused to give McCarthy the 218 votes needed to win the job.

After arduous negotiations, the pro-Trump group eventually relented and McCarthy became president.

Historical precedent

The House voted Wednesday to impeach McCarthy, a first in U.S. history that exemplifies the extent of the Republican Party's divisions.

The Republican rebellion against McCarthy was led by Matt Gates, a controversial congressman from Florida who decided to implement his move after the House speaker struck a deal with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown over the weekend.

Avoiding government shutdown

The U.S. Congress passed a temporary funding bill on Saturday with overwhelming Democratic support after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy abandoned an earlier demand from hardliners in his own party to pass any bill with Republican votes alone.

The Democratic-majority Senate voted 88-nine to pass the measure to avoid a fourth partial shutdown of the federal government in a decade, sending it to President Joe Biden, who signed it into law.

McCarthy abandoned the party's hardliners' earlier insistence that any bill pass only through Republican votes, a change that could prompt a far-right party member to try to oust him from his leadership role.

The House of Representatives supported funding the government through Nov. 17 by 335 votes to 91, winning more support from Democrats than Republicans.

Law Threatens Ukraine's Support

The law sparked a debate over the future of U.S. support for Ukraine after it excluded more military funding from a last-minute congressional budget agreement.

Lawmakers must now consider a separate bill related to $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which President Joe Biden wanted to include in the latest budget, while it could be voted on early next week.

U.S. officials, including Biden, have long expressed confidence that Congress will continue to provide Ukraine with "billions of dollars" in aid to secure their support against Russia, even as tensions rise in Washington between Republicans and Democrats.

The White House, most Democrats and many Republicans in Congress have lobbied hard for new aid to be included in Ukraine, despite resistance from allies of former President Donald Trump.

But in the final hours of talks to block the government shutdown, the speaker of the pre-impeached Republican House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, took Ukraine off the table and heeded pressure from his conservative critics, at a time when the White House and many Kiev supporters in Washington had no choice but to accept.

Democrats won the law but let McCarthy down

Some 209 Democrats supported the bill, far more than the 126 Republicans who approved it, and Democrats called the result a win.

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters ahead of the vote: "The radical Republicans have lost, and the American people have won."

McCarthy told reporters at the time: "If I had to risk my job to defend the American people, I will."

McCarthy found no support from Democrats on Wednesday, despite speculation that some of them might vote for him to keep the chamber in balance.

Democrats have said they consider McCarthy untrustworthy after he broke a spending deal with President Joe Biden, and are angry at his decision to give the green light to an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

Who is McCarthy

  • Kevin McCarthy was born in Bakersfield, California on January 26, 1965.
  • He studied business administration at the University of California.
  • He became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007 for the first time.
  • He became leader of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives in 2014.
  • He was one of the first supporters of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential race.
  • He was chosen as Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives in 2019.
  • After Biden's victory in the 2020 election, McCarthy supported Trump's position of denying Biden's victory and participating in legal efforts to overturn the results.
  • McCarthy later condemned the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters in 2021.