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Balint: McCarthy 'enabled and encouraged extremism' as House speaker

A photo of a woman at a microphone
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Associated Press
Rep. Becca Balint, D-Vt., speaks during a news conference Nov. 13, 2022.

There's been an unprecedented change of leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A group of conservative House Republicans and every member of the Democratic caucus voted to remove GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from office Tuesday. It marks the first time in history the House has dethroned its leader in a no-confidence vote.

Some pundits thought Democrats might join with moderate Republicans to save McCarthy's position.

But Rep. Becca Balint, D-Vt., told Vermont Public that he didn't deserve to remain in office.

"This is a man who has allowed, enabled and encouraged extremism within his party," Balint said. "There is absolutely no way that I would support him continuing in his job."

A temporary speaker will serve in office until a permanent speaker is elected by a majority of House members.

Balint said it was uncomfortable not to know what comes next, but she could not abide what she said was McCarthy's focus on his personal career rather than democracy.

In a statement Tuesday night, Vermont Republican Party Chairman Paul Dame criticized Balint and other "opportunistic Democrats" for voting with Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Republican who made the motion to vacate the speaker's seat. Dame called Gaetz a chaos agent and part of a group of "impatient Republicans."

"Republicans, like Americans in general, are a diverse group of people with a wide variety of strongly-held viewpoints," Dame said. "I believe Speaker McCarthy did the best he could with the hand he was dealt."

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Updated: October 4, 2023 at 8:20 AM EDT
This article was updated Wednesday morning with comments from Vermont Republican Party Chairman Paul Dame.
Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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