In early January, Kevin McCarthy thought he had it made. After an agonizing 15 rounds of voting, the Republican was finally allowed to raise the speaker’s gavel and assume the presidency of the US House of Representatives. Nine months later, the 58-year-old is faced with the political shambles of his career.

With a narrow majority, the right-wing Republican wing removed him from office on Tuesday. In the end, the vote was 216 to 210 for McCarthy’s removal.

The internal party showdown on Capitol Hill was followed with excitement. Such proposals have only been put forward three times in the history of the Congressional Chamber. And only once – in 1910 – has there been a vote on it. McCarthy is officially the first chairman to lose his office this way.

The driving force behind the revolt against him was the radical Republican Matt Gaetz. The supporter of former President Donald Trump had long threatened to file a motion to remove the speaker (read more here).

The background is the dispute over the budget freeze that was averted at the last minute at the weekend. McCarthy had agreed with House Democrats on a compromise to fund federal agencies through November 17 to prevent a so-called shutdown. Gaetz, who insists on massive spending cuts, had sharply attacked McCarthy for this. He also accuses him of having made a “secret” agreement with President Biden for new aid to Ukraine.

Before the vote in the plenary, Gaetz engaged in heated exchanges with other Republicans who supported McCarthy. “You can boo all you want,” he shouted at one point. McCarthyites warned that removing the chairman would “paralyze” the chamber of Congress, turn the population against the Republicans and ultimately benefit the Democrats.

Now the congressional chamber is likely to be paralyzed for the time being by the election of a new chairman. Until the personnel details are clarified, all remaining legislative work is on hold.

The parliamentary chaos comes right at the time when Congress has to pass a federal budget, as the interim budget expires in mid-November. If no new budget is passed by the deadline, the USA will once again be heading for a temporary standstill in government business.

The Republicans’ internal party struggles also have international repercussions. Since the interim budget does not provide for any further aid for Ukraine, this must also be renegotiated. This does not mean that the US will stop supporting the country attacked by Russia from now on. However, the money approved so far is running out and new funds are needed.