UNM professor, lawmakers weigh in on removal of Kevin McCarthy as House speaker

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A Republican rebellion came to a head Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Lawmakers officially voted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy out of his position. It comes after Florida Congressman Republican Matt Gaetz filed a motion to remove his own party’s leader. 

McCarthy was accused of breaking promises to Republicans when he worked with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown last weekend.

But the effects of this move could reach far beyond Capitol Hill. 

“This kind of chaos is terrible for the people of New Mexico, particularly for the people who receive federal funding directly senior citizens and others who so desperately rely on that type of funding,” said UNM Law Professor Joshua Kastenburg. 

Kastenberg says the vote that plunged House Republicans into turmoil puts New Mexicans at risk, as we wait on Congress to approve a spending bill that would fund the government beyond the next 45 days.

“One would hope the Democrat controlled Senate, the Republican controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic White House can actually get together and negotiate. If you don’t have a speaker of the House of Representatives and the Republican leadership is in chaos,N there’s no negotiation and the reasonable prediction is that this 45 days will be for nothing,” said Kastenburg. 

New Mexico Democratic representatives in Congress weighed in on Tuesday’s move. 

Congressman Gabe Vasquez sent the following statement to KOB 4:

“As a Member of Congress entrusted by New Mexicans to serve in their best interest, I have a responsibility to uphold good governance and deliver positive results to our communities. My constituents deserve better than a Speaker who took us to the brink of a debt default, a government shutdown and who has brought chaos and complete dysfunction to Congress.  

McCarthy has shown that he is beholden to his party’s extreme, far-right members and is not committed to common-sense, bipartisan solutions. Congress needs a Speaker who can govern with consensus and work across the aisle. Kevin McCarthy is not that Speaker.”  

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández sent the following to KOB 4:

“Never before in history has a Speaker been removed. Never before have we seen such chaos, right wing extremism, and threat to our constitutional promise to create an America that includes prosperity for every one of us.  

The next order of business is to elect a new Speaker. I will vote once again with all Democrats for Leader Jeffries as our next Speaker. Democrats are unified and passionate in our support of Leader Jeffries.   

We are unified and passionate about uplifting our communities and creating opportunity in every corner of our beautiful state and country.” 

Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury also sent the following statement to KOB 4 Tuesday:

“As a New Mexican, my priority will always be to serve the people of New Mexico and this great country. Under GOP leadership, the House has turned into a political circus, unable to govern and meet its basic constitutional duties. While the GOP wastes time infighting with one another and taking our country to the brink of a shut down, millions of lives are in the balance—from our active duty military, veterans, and federal workers, to our seniors and families with children. Make no mistake, this is a solemn and unprecedented moment in American democracy, as no Speaker in the history of our country has ever been voted out by a motion to vacate.  But, it is emblematic of a GOP that has been overtaken by extremists and chaos, and an inability to carry basic responsibilities on behalf of the American people. That’s why my priority is to ensure that we are serving the people of New Mexico, not playing political games with people’s lives and American democracy, and that New Mexicans have the resources they need to thrive.”

Kastenberg says there is no timeline to nominate someone for the speaker’s position, but it is time to work together. 

“Democracy can be a messy thing, and it goes back to a Winston Churchill comment that democracy is the best worst kind of government there is. But when responsible people are in leadership positions it’s not supposed to do this,” said Kastenburg.  

As of now, Patrick McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina is acting as temporary speaker of the House. 

This is the first time in history a speaker of the House has been voted out of the office. There is no obvious successor at this time.