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Rep. Terri Sewell: GOP has unleashed ‘chaos, dysfunction, and extremism …’

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell joined 208 Democrats to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. (FILE)

The Birmingham Times

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) on Tuesday joined 208 Democrats along with eight Republicans in the House to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy. This is the first time in U.S. history that a sitting speaker has been voted to be removed.

Afterwards Sewell said, “This is a sad and unprecedented day for America. Government works best when we have two functioning political parties that are willing to put people over politics. What is clear is that House Republicans are divided among themselves and have unleashed chaos, dysfunction, and extremism at every turn.

“My Democratic colleagues and I remain willing to find common ground, but it is up to House Republicans to end this GOP civil war.”

All six of Alabama’s GOP House members voted to keep McCarthy in the speaker’s chair, but the California congressman did not survive the 216-210 vote to remove him.

McCarthy told lawmakers late Tuesday he would not run again for speaker, putting the gavel up for grabs. Next steps are highly uncertain as there is no obvious successor to lead the House Republican majority. Action is halted in the House until next week, when Republicans try to elect a new speaker.

“I may have lost this vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber I feel fortunate to have served,” McCarthy said at a press conference at the Capitol. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

McCarthy’s chief rival, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, orchestrated the rare vote on the obscure “motion to vacate,” and pushed ahead swiftly into a dramatic afternoon roll call.

While McCarthy enjoyed support from most Republicans in his slim majority, eight Republican detractors — many of the same hard-right holdouts who tried to stop him from becoming speaker in January — essentially forced him out.

Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a letter to colleagues that he wants to work with Republicans, but he was unwilling to provide the votes needed to save McCarthy.

“It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War,” Jeffries said, announcing the Democratic leadership would vote for the motion to oust the speaker.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden “hopes the House will quickly elect a Speaker.” Once that happens, she said, “he looks forward to working together with them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this post