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In the News

Chaos in the House

Mike McCartney

5th October 2023

The unprecedented nature of the Speaker being ousted

Back in the 1980s a political scholar once described Congress as a "fragmented, decentralised and undisciplined institution." (Oleszek).

When compared to the House of Commons in the UK, for example, in historical terms Capitol Hill has not been characterised by the same degree of intra-party loyalty, and therefore in order to successfully pass legislation, bipartisan support was essential.

Despite (and maybe there is even an argument to say because of?) the actions of Newt Gingrich in the early-to mid 1990s as Speaker of the House to exercise greater control over the Republican Party, and evidence of much greater polarisation between the GOP and the Democrats both inside the beltway, and across the United States, it still much more difficult to steer policy ideas through the legislature in Washington than in, say, Westminster.

Watch the video below, and think of the significance of McCarthy being unseated from his post in terms corroborating the assertion that the US Congress is a complex and unmanageable institution of government - in fact, some would go as far as calling it dysfunctional.


1. What was the reason for Kevin McCarthy's ousting?

2. Who led the group that ousted McCarthy?

3. What is the consequence of McCarthy's ousting on the House of Representatives?

4. Who is responsible for bringing chaos to the House of Representatives?

5. What is Matt Gates' role in McCarthy's ousting?

6. How did the majority of Republicans react to Gates' actions?

7. What does Andy Biggs think about the situation in the Republican party?

8. Why is the line of succession to the presidency now a concern?

9. What is the hope for resolving the situation quickly?

10. What is the potential challenge for anyone who wants to fill the speaker's seat?

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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