McCarthy Faces Attempt by Far Right to Remove Him as Speaker

Kevin McCarthy’s embrace of a bipartisan deal to avert a US government shutdown has triggered a mutiny by far-right Republicans to depose him as House speaker.

(Bloomberg) — Kevin McCarthy’s embrace of a bipartisan deal to avert a US government shutdown has triggered a mutiny by far-right Republicans to depose him as House speaker.

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz said on Sunday that he will file a motion to vacate the chair this week, seizing on a parliamentary process that has not resulted in a speaker removal vote since 1910. 

“I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week,” Gaetz said on CNN’s “State of the Union”. “I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.” 

Gaetz’s announcement came just hours after the House and Senate passed a temporary spending bill that attracted support from both sides. 

Gaetz said his move stemmed from McCarthy’s embrace of a bipartisan deal that didn’t enact the steep spending cuts ultra-conservatives have demanded. That, he has said, is the latest in a string of promises McCarthy made to be elected speaker and has since broken.

“This isn’t personal. This is about spending,” Gaetz said. “This is about the deal Kevin McCarthy made.”

McCarthy needs only a simple majority of all House members voting to stop the effort to remove him. Republicans hold a slim majority and just five could join unified Democrats to bounce McCarthy from the speaker’s office.

Representative Byron Donalds, a Republican from Florida who opposed the stopgap spending measure, said he thinks McCarthy’s in trouble. 

“I’m going to be totally blunt. There are a lot of trust issues in my chamber right now,” Donalds said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Previously, some House Democrats have said any effort to save McCarthy from a hardliner revolt would be contingent on bipartisan compromises.

Even if McCarthy survives the current mutiny, Republican dissenters could call for a new vote at any time or impose procedural hurdles to block consideration of legislation. That essentially requires him to either maintain the alliance with Democrats—essentially a coalition government in the House—or resolve differences with hardliners who now have one more reason to resent his leadership.

In 2015, then-Speaker John Boehner resigned when hardliners threatened such a rebellion rather than rely on Democratic votes to remain in power.

House Democrats led by Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York could decide to bail out McCarthy, even if they don’t actually cast votes to keep him in his post. Enough members could simply not show up, hold back their votes, or merely vote “present,” lowering the threshold number of “nays” to removal that McCarthy needs to prevail.

Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota has said he and other Democrats would consider helping out McCarthy out. But he reeled back those comments  after the speaker authorized formal impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, which Phillips considered an act of “pandering” to the Republican hard right. Still, it’s not too late for McCarthy to win back that potential support, Phillips and others say.

Jeffries has said not even been contemplating the idea of aiding McCarthy. “We’ll just have to cross that bridge, if and when we get to it,” he said.

–With assistance from Alicia Diaz.

(Updates with new detail starting in fourth paragraph)

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