Republican U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has been removed from his position. This is the first time in the history of the U.S. Congress that the speaker of the House, an important post that is second in line to the U.S. presidential succession after the vice president, has been removed.
The trigger was the conclusion of a stopgap government budget reached at the end of September. As a partial government shutdown was looming without an agreement on a budget for the new fiscal year, the speaker submitted a compromise plan to fund the government through mid-November. In response to a proposal that did not include any sharp cuts to government spending, hardline Republicans joined with Democrats in the motion to dismiss McCarthy. This alignment with the Democrats was an unusual situation.
If this chaotic management of Congress continues, it will hinder the execution of U.S. policy and also could have a significant impact on the international community. A speaker must be appointed and the situation resolved immediately.
The government shutdown was barely averted, but this stopgap budget has problems as well. Because hardline conservative House Republicans wanted budget cuts, support for Ukraine was not included. From now on, if a real government budget is not passed, support will not be funded for more than two months.
The House of Representatives has a Republican majority, but only a slight margin over Democrat seats. Because of this, a faction of hardliners is persistent in pushing through its claims, aggravating divisions within the party. Even now, representatives who support former President Donald Trump, who is preparing for next year’s presidential election, are persistently urging for cuts in government spending.
Steve Scalise, the number two Republican in the House, declared his bid to be the new speaker of the House, but removing the influence of hardliners will be difficult.
U.S. support is a matter of life or death in Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia. U.S. President Joe Biden has declared continued support, but he must pour his persuasive influence into the approval of a Congressional budget.
Since last February, when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has contributed over $43 billion in military support alone. It cannot be denied that extended conflict has led to donor fatigue in many countries, including the U.S.
However, if the U.S. withdraws, it could spur similar withdrawals, thus benefiting a Russia that violates the sovereignty and dominion of other countries. If the U.S. touts freedom and democracy and regards itself as a leader of the international community, U.S. congressional leadership ought to put a full stop to internal political strife.