Two months after losing the highest position in the House, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he’s completely done.
On Wednesday, the California representative announced that he would be leaving his longtime career in Congress’s lower chamber by the end of the month.
“It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways,” McCarthy wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “I know my work is only getting started.”
McCarthy’s new leaf will take him behind the GOP’s recruitment effort for new talent, scouting and supporting rising elected officials around the country.
“The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders,” McCarthy said.
His retirement follows a radical ousting in October, when he became the shortest-serving House speaker in U.S. history thanks to a fringe, far-right minority in the House who he empowered in order to secure the gavel in the first place.
With McCarthy’s forthcoming absence, Representative Bill Johnson’s impending retirement in March, and Representative George Santos’s recent expulsion, a historically divided caucus of House Republicans will be left with a slimmer than slim majority—potentially pulling weight with just one seat.
“Now in 2024, we will have a 1 seat majority in the House of Representatives,” wrote Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on X. “I can assure you Republican voters didn’t give us the majority to crash the ship. Hopefully no one dies.”
McCarthy’s ascent to the House’s highest seat came after a grueling 15-ballot vote earlier this year in which he handed the tools of his ultimate demise to a fringe collection of far-right members of the House led by Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, agreeing to terms that a single member could spur a no-confidence vote and initiate his dismissal.
McCarthy has been seemingly weighing his future in Congress since the ousting, noting at The New York Times DealBook Summit last week that he was considering an exit.
“If you just got thrown out of speaker, you’d go through different stages, would you not?” he said. “I want to know that it’s the right thing to do. And then if I’m walking away from something that I spent two decades at, I don’t want to look back and say I made an emotional decision.”
McCarthy’s exit is the latest in a sweep of retirements from Capitol Hill, which includes the exit of former Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry and 29 other members of the House, including Representatives Ken Buck, Debbie Lesko, and Michael Burgess. Seven senators have also announced they will not be seeking re-election after their current terms end, including Senator Mitt Romney and Joe Manchin.
McCarthy, for his part, hasn’t hid his resentment for the members who ousted him. Last month, he was caught in a bout of schoolyard drama in which Representative Tim Burchett accused the California Republican of elbowing him in the back, which McCarthy fervently denied.
“If I were to hit somebody, they would know I hit them,” McCarthy said.
This story has been updated.