In a stunning move that came as a surprise to many in the Republican party, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy took his name off the running for House Speaker.
McCarthy announced his decision moments before GOP lawmakers were set to nominate the California Rep. as their speaker.
The front-runner threw Congress' Republican leadership race into chaos and disarray Thursday and forced outgoing House Speaker John Boehner to abruptly end the closed-door session and reschedule the vote.
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In a statement, Boehner said he will continue to serve as speaker until the House votes to elect a successor.
"We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks," Boehner said. "Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.”
Presidential hopefuls and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle had mixed reactions to McCarthy’s announcement.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said McCarthy was "unselfish" by prioritizing the Republican conference ahead of his own political ambitions, while anti-establishment GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump expressed enthusiasm over the news in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Democrats warned that the GOP's internal strife shouldn't keep the House from conducting serious business — like raising the debt ceiling before Nov. 5, when the nation risks defaulting on its loans.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says it's easy to "poke fun at the chaos" triggered by McCarthy's stunning move. But Earnest says the challenge facing the next speaker is the same one that McCarthy would have faced — and what outgoing Speaker John Boehner had to deal with.