Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters after he was ousted from the position of Speaker by a vote of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday he will resign from Congress at the end of the year.

McCarthy, the California Republican who was ousted as speaker by a faction of his own party two months earlier, said he is leaving “to serve America in new ways.”

“I know my work is only getting started,” McCarthy said in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

The announcement immediately rocketed McCarthy to the top of the private sector’s target list of former members of Congress who would be powerful additions to a company payroll. McCarthy was a prolific fundraiser as Republican leader and later speaker, where he built a deep network of CEOs and major donors.

California’s 20th Congressional District is solidly Republican, so McCarthy’s departure is not likely to result in a Democrat being elected to fill the seat.

But his absence will leave the House GOP down a member for at least a few months, further narrowing its already-slim majority and exacerbating its legislative efforts.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is required under state law to call a special election within two weeks of McCarthy’s seat becoming vacant. That special election must take place between 126 and 140 days later, though it may be able to coincide with California’s congressional primaries on March 5.

When former Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., resigned in January 2020, Newsom left the seat open for the next 10 months.

McCarthy’s work in Congress will effectively cease even earlier than the end of December: His announcement came the week before the House is scheduled to depart Capitol Hill for the rest of the year.

“I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office. The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders,” McCarthy wrote in his op-ed.

He credited the House Republican majority under his leadership with a raft of fiscal policy wins and and other achievements.

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“No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing,” McCarthy said, adding that it was “in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year.”

McCarthy also gave a vague hint about his future plans, “I look forward to helping entrepreneurs and risk-takers reach their full potential.”

“The challenges we face are more likely to be solved by innovation than legislation,” he wrote.

McCarthy was elected speaker in mid-January after failing in 14 straight votes to clinch the gavel. He succeeded in the 15th vote only after agreeing to deep concessions from a bloc of right-wing GOP holdouts, including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert.

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