In a first for American republican democracy, the Speaker of the House, the third most powerful person in political office, has been ousted in a 216 to 21o vote. The Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, met his match in Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, who has led a small but vocal opposition to the funding of the war in Ukraine.
There’s no clear nominee to replace McCarthy, but in the meantime, according to CNN, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R – NC) will serve as interim speaker.
Mainstream media covering the event have missed the mark entirely, judging it to be based on Gaetz’s loyalty to some sort of right-wing populist agenda started by Donald Trump and continued now by Congressmen who were elected in districts that supported him.
This is the wrong interpretation, as the ousting of McCarthy comes from a new phenomenon in American politics—the right-wing opposition to involving the nation in foreign conflicts. Gaetz is one of the most active anti-war politicians in Washington if measured by actions and not words. The removal of McCarthy was introduced as a privileged resolution, meaning it takes precedence in any congressional session, and he stipulated it was in response to the belief that the Speaker had cut a secret deal with President Joe Biden to pump billions more in military aid for Ukraine through Congress.
President Biden said Sunday that he expected McCarthy to “keep his word and secure the passage of support for Ukraine at this critical moment,” after the Speaker negotiated and passed a stopgap funding bill to prevent a US government shutdown that included the removal of $24 billion in aid funding for Ukraine’s military and government.
Gaetz has been opposed to the Ukraine aid from early on in the conflict.
Last year, Gaetz introduced an amendment to the 2023 defense spending bill to set up an inspector general for all aid to Ukraine which was eventually snipped from the final bill. He later wrote a letter with 2 colleagues demanding that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reveal what oversight and accounting was in place for the then-already $100 billion earmarked for sending and buying weapons and ammunition for Ukraine.
On March 8th, a nearly three-fourths majority in the House voted against Gaetz’s resolution to remove US troops from Syrian oil fields, which they occupy in order to deny the area’s oil wealth from falling into the hands of the Syrian government.
On March 28th Gaetz introduced a bill under the War Powers Resolution commanding the President to order the military out of Somalia just days after Gaetz grilled Gen. Michael Langley, the head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), about the pattern of the US military training individuals who would go on to lead coup d’etats of democratic leaders in Mali, Burkina Faso, and eventually Niger.
In April of this year, WaL reported that Gaetz introduced a resolution that would have forced Biden and the Pentagon to reveal whether or not there were American forces in Ukraine at any level of classification.
Gaetz’s firm belief that the wars of America’s adventuring 21st century have bankrupted the country, killed millions, and accomplished nothing, is clearly the overriding factor in his desire to remove McCarthy, who has ensured the passage of every Ukrainian funding project that came before him over the course of his 9-month speakership.
Ukraine aid dries up in Poland, Slovakia, UK, and US
With the fall of McCarthy, a situation in Congress was created whereby a small group of Republicans have proven themselves capable of undoing the plans of the GOP establishment, making any potential replacement have to seriously consider what Gaetz and his colleagues are after. If another senior GOP member comes in to try and reinstitute the blank check policy for Ukraine aid, the risks are there of a similar thing happening to them as well. The democrats in Congress, who staunchly support Ukraine aid, were happy to vote unanimously for the removal of McCarthy.
In the meantime, just $6 billion remains of existing Pentagon and Presidential Drawdown Authority for the Biden Administration to send weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. New aid will have to be passed, which may require negotiation with Gaetz and his other 8 congressional upstarts.
Across the pond, aid is becoming a challenge elsewhere. In the UK, a senior British military source speaking to The Telegraph said that the Royal Armed Forces had given away “just about as much as we can afford,” to Ukraine.
“We will continue to source equipment to provide for Ukraine, but what they need now is things like air defense assets and artillery ammunition, and we’ve run dry on all that,” the source said.
Poland, another large supplier of weapons and vehicles to Ukraine, has also announced an end to military support after Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy took a stab at their northern neighbor over a ban on Ukrainian grain which has been disrupting European agriculture markets. Analysts and citizens suggest it has more to do with Poland having no more old Soviet equipment to send to Ukraine, and that now their priority is to refill their stockpiles with modern NATO equipment.
“We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, supporting that notion.
Elsewhere in the Slavosphere, a populist party in Slovakia that opposes providing military assistance to Ukraine has won the country’s elections. WaL spoke to a Slovakian voter who noted it was her experience that Slovakia has a strong non-violence streak, and attitudes were strongly in favor of an end to the arming of Ukraine.
Lastly, the Wall Street Journal spoke with unnamed sources in the Ukrainian military who said that there is almost no money left for funding the civilian government, which has run on almost entirely international aid.
Gaetz will see all of this as evidence that he is in the right in opposing Ukraine aid. A poll of Americans done in the lead-up to the vote found that 71% opposed any further support to Ukraine.
Voters and politicians around the world oppose the funding regime of Ukraine because they feel it prolongs and expands the killing and dying without a possibility of victory. Their opponents believe that Ukraine could defeat Russia if enough sophisticated weapons, training, and support were provided, although Russia gained more territory in 2023 than Ukraine has at the time of publishing, despite Ukraine’s long-vaunted counterattack. WaL
PICTURED ABOVE: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits The Capitol Building where he was hosted by Speaker Kevin McCarthy. PC: Number 10 Downing Street. CC 3.0.