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Kevin McCarthy reveals why he skipped Nancy Pelosi’s retirement speech

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that he skipped House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) leadership retirement speech because he “had meetings.” 

McCarthy, who is in line to replace Pelosi as House speaker, wasn’t the only Republican to miss the address. The Republican side of the lower chamber was largely empty during her farewell, according to reports.

“I had meetings, but normally, the others would do it during votes — I wish she could have done that, I could have been there,” McCarthy told reporters after Pelosi finished her speech. 

McCarthy added that he didn’t watch any of it, and wished that Pelosi would have announced the end of her run in leadership like her predecessors did. 

McCarthy was hoping that Pelosi would have announced her retirement during the vote so he and other members of the GOP could have been in attendance.
AFP via Getty Images

“Normally, when the speakers do that, like Paul Ryan and John Boehner did it during the vote, I would have liked that,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy later marveled at how long Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who also announced that he will step down from his leadership post, have steered Democrats in the House. 

“It’s not just her, it’s Steny too — I mean, think about it. They’ve both had quite a career of how many decades they’ve been here, working through — so, it’s a whole new generation for the Democrats,” McCarthy said.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was reportedly the only member of the GOP’s leadership team to attend Pelosi’s speech.

McCarthy faces a full House vote in January on his nomination to be speaker of the House. He needs 218 votes to be appointed speaker. 

Steve Scalise making speech.
Scalise was the only member of the GOP’s leadership to be in attendance when Pelosi announced her retirement as Speaker.

Pelosi, 82, led House Democrats for nearly two decades and developed a reputation for enforcing strict party unity in key votes.

“I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi told House members on Thursday. “For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.”

House Democrats are expected to select their next leader on Nov. 30. New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is the heavy favorite to become the next Democratic leader in the House.

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