Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke out in support of ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday, applauding his service in a “thankless role.”
McConnell, R-Ky., released the statement thanking McCarthy, R-Calif., for his short tenure following the successful rebellion of eight GOP lawmakers culminating in his removal as speaker.
“Speaker McCarthy has my sincere thanks for his service to our nation in what is often a thankless role,” McConnell wrote. “The Speaker’s tenure was bookended by historic fights, but as he reminded his colleagues when he took the gavel, ‘our nation is worth fighting for.'”
Eight hard-line Republican lawmakers joined every present House Democrat in Tuesday’s historic vote to oust McCarthy from the top job.
The Senate minority leader’s comments on the former speaker struck a gushing tone, saying McCarthy “brought the hopes, dreams, and concerns of the people” to Congress.
“The Speaker’s appetite for worthy causes steered a narrow majority to seize historic opportunities for the American people and for conservative principles,” McConnell wrote. “His willingness to face the biggest challenges head-on helped preserve the full faith and credit of the United States and showed colleagues how to handle every outcome with grace.”
McCarthy angered hardliners over the weekend when he passed a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open for 45 days in order to avert a government shutdown and give lawmakers more time to cobble together 12 individual spending bills.
Ninety House Republicans voted against the CR on Saturday, arguing that it was a “clean” extension of the previous Democrat-held Congress’ policies. But the speaker’s previous attempts to put a CR on the table that would cut spending for its short duration were upended by several of those same conservatives who were opposed to any such measure on principle.
“We’re concerned about the future of the conservative agenda in the House,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla, who was the informal leader of McCarthy’s critics. “I would say that the conservative agenda was being paralyzed by Speaker McCarthy.”
McCarthy said Gaetz’s move was “personal” and suggested it was done in retaliation for an ongoing Ethics Committee investigation into his conduct.
Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Elkind , Brandon Gillespie and Jamie Joseph contributed to this report.