Republican Matt Gaetz officially moved to topple House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday evening, teeing up a high-stakes vote likely to dramatically shift the balance of power in Washington whatever the outcome.
(Bloomberg) — Republican Matt Gaetz officially moved to topple House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday evening, teeing up a high-stakes vote likely to dramatically shift the balance of power in Washington whatever the outcome.
At least one other Republican dissident explicitly said he would join Gaetz and others indicated they were strongly considering doing so. As few as five ultra-conservatives could overthrow McCarthy if all Democrats support them.
Gaetz, a Florida Republican, cited McCarthy’s embrace on Saturday of a bipartisan deal to avert a US government shutdown as provocation for the mutiny.
“Bring it on,” McCarthy responded on X moments after Gaetz stood in the well of the House, formally beginning the process.
McCarthy must call a vote within two legislative days. The speaker or his GOP allies are expected to seek a vote as soon as Tuesday on an effort to block the maneuver.
After speaking, Gaetz calmly folded his papers, and walked up the center aisle alone, to laughter and chatter from Democrats on one side of the chamber, and near silence of the few Republicans on the other side.
By next week, he told reporters, “either McCarthy is no longer the speaker or he serves at the pleasure of Democrats.”
Gaetz indicated he would be willing to support the second-ranking House Republican, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, for the speaker’s job. Scalise is currently being treated for a rare blood cancer.
The move, officially called a motion to vacate the chair, is a parliamentary process that has not resulted in a speaker removal vote since 1910. In that case, then-Speaker Joseph Cannon survived the test.
Read More: How the Weapon Dissident Matt Gaetz Is Aiming at McCarthy Works
Gaetz can be thwarted by a simple majority of House members present and voting. Republicans hold a slim majority and just five could join unified Democrats to bounce McCarthy from the speaker’s office.
Democrats also could help quell the revolt by missing the vote or voting “present” — lowering the threshold McCarthy would need to prevail.
“If anyone brings a motion to vacate at any time, I will vote for it. I would never vote to retain the speaker,” Virginia Republican Bob Good said earlier Monday. “What he did on Saturday is overwhelming confirmation of the concerns we had in January.”
Several others, including Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee, appear to be leaning toward joining Gaetz. Burchett said Monday night his conscience is telling him to support the motion to vacate.
Representative Andy Biggs, meanwhile, posted on X that McCarthy “cannot remain speaker.”
Some House Democrats have previously said any effort to save McCarthy from a hardliner revolt would be contingent on bipartisan compromises.
Ukraine aid, which was abandoned in the rush to avert an Oct. 1 government shutdown, could be among the concessions Democrats seek.
Some also have raised as a concession demanding McCarthy hold a floor vote on his impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Such a move would force GOP moderates in swing-district areas that Biden won in 2020 on the record about whether they support the inquiry.
But the party was noncommittal on Monday. Several said they are awaiting direction from Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader.
“We’ll see,” said Representative Marie Glueskamp Perez of Washington State, one of the most moderate and vulnerable Democrats, said.
Another Democratic moderate, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, said it “saddens” him that McCarthy has lost the trust of his caucus. Phillips, considered to be the Democrat most likely to save McCarthy, took issue with the speaker’s rush to get a vote on the short-term spending bill on Saturday.
Democrats ultimately supported the measure, but expressed frustration that they had little time to review it.
Gaetz said he’ll continue to offer the motion, suggesting that he’s doing it to help former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2024.
“The way I look at it, I’m trying to do a little housekeeping before he arrives,” Gaetz said of Trump.
In 2015, then-Speaker John Boehner resigned when hardliners threatened such a rebellion rather than rely on Democratic votes to remain in power.
–With assistance from Laura Litvan, Jonathan Tamari, Maeve Sheehey and Mackenzie Hawkins.
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