Kevin McCarthy denies reports he is considering resigning from Congress

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., conducts a news conference in the U.S. Capitol on border security, government funding, and other issues, on Friday, September 29, 2023.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who was ousted as House speaker this week, shot down reports that he was considering an early departure from Congress and said Friday that he won’t be stepping down.

“I am not resigning. I got a lot more work to do,” McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“We’re going to keep the majority. I’m going to help the people I got here, and we’re going to expand it further,” he said, referring to the 2024 elections.

His comments came shortly after two people familiar with the situation told NBC News said McCarthy was considering resigning.

One of the McCarthy allies said he was “exploring his options but has not made a definitive decision.”

“No decision made,” the other source said.

Politico first reported that McCarthy was considering leaving Congress before his term ends in early January 2025.

McCarthy was removed as House speaker on Tuesday in a 216-210 vote, with Democrats joining eight conservatives frustrated with his leadership in voting to oust him.

Hours after the vote, McCarthy announced during a press conference that he would not run again for the top post in the House. Asked whether he planned to remain a member of Congress, McCarthy said, “I’ll look at that.”

Before McCarthy denied reports of a possible resignation, a person who has not spoken to McCarthy directly but was in touch with people in his inner circle, said, “His thinking has vacillated a bit.”

“I think he’s considered multiple options. And what it means for his future. He said it in his remarks — he wants to help keep most of the members in their seats. How he does that and from what vantage point is the decision,” the person said.

It is not unprecedented for a former speaker to leave Congress before their term is over. Then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, left Congress after abruptly announcing his decision in September 2015 to step down.

McCarthy, 58, has served in House GOP leadership since 2009 and has served in Congress since 2007. He represents California’s 20th congressional district, which covers the state’s Central Valley.

He took over as speaker in January after a chaotic effort initially within the GOP conference to elect him and he lasted nine months in the job. McCarthy has served as the top Republican leader since 2019 after the resignation of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Before coming to Washington, he was a member of the California State Assembly.

House Republicans are slated to hold a closed-door candidate forum Tuesday for the next speaker. On Wednesday, they’re expected to hold an internal election before an official vote on the House floor with Democrats and Republicans.

As of Friday afternoon, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had launched official bids for speaker.

Jordan has so far received more public support than Scalise and Jordan received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump on Thursday. Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is also considering jumping into the race.

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