Rep. Kevin McCarthy signaled his retirement on Wednesday, more than a month after he was ousted as the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. That may seem out of fashion in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country,” McCarthy, R-Calif., wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
“It is in this spirit that 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,” he added, making plans to leave one year before his current term ends.
“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,” the former speaker said, without giving any details about his future endeavors.
Technically, former members can’t engage in lobbying for a year after leaving Congress. Should he be interested in lobbying, McCarthy, one of the strongest fundraisers in the House, will have to wait before jumping into a lucrative career in the private sector.
This news comes as House Republicans plan to throw McCarthy a party on Dec. 13 in honor of his work in supporting GOP electoral efforts and “delivering our House majority,” as Politico reported. This celebration was planned before McCarthy’s announcement.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who led the efforts to oust McCarthy, didn’t seem to mind the California representative’s departure, saying, “McLeavin’” in a post on X.
McCarthy’s exit isn’t unexpected. As The New York Times reported, the final months of his 16-year career on the Hill became more difficult after his ousting, with his usual sunny disposition replaced by moments of apparent frustration. His successor, Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana, hadn’t shown an interest in seeking McCarthy’s advice on ways to manage the Republican conference as McCarthy began avoiding conference meetings, the report said.
Then, there’s the alleged physical altercation: Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., accused McCarthy of elbowing him in the back as the two passed each other.
“You got any guts?” witnesses quoted Burchett saying, “You need security, Kevin!”
But McCarthy’s right-hand man, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who served as a one-time temporary House speaker, defended McCarthy’s change in temperament.
“When you spend two decades building something, it’s difficult to end that chapter,” said McHenry, per the Times. “His life has been building the Republican majority and attaining the third-highest office in the land. It is difficult for any mortal to deal with an abrupt end and determine his next chapter.”
McHenry said Tuesday he also is not seeking reelection. Roughly 30 representatives, including at least 10 Republicans, are not running for reelection.
GOP lawmakers are sounding alarm over these retirements that threaten the razor-thin Republican majority in the lower chamber. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said on X, “Congratulations Freedom Caucus for one and 105 Rep who expel our own for the other. I can assure you Republican voters didn’t give us the majority to crash the ship. Hopefully no one dies.”