U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he will call for a floor vote Tuesday, Oct. 3 on a motion filed just one day earlier to oust him from his leadership role.
On Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) filed a motion “declaring the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives to be vacant,” forcing a high-stakes showdown.
The two congressmen had traded barbs shortly before the motion was filed, with McCarthy telling Gaetz on social media app X to “Bring it on,” leading Gaetz to reply, “Just did.”
Just did. https://t.co/zdQk3GblbV
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) October 2, 2023
After re-taking the House in last year’s midterm elections, McCarthy offered a list of concessions in order to become speaker. One agreement was on a “motion to vacate the chair,” which allows a single member to introduce a resolution calling for a vote on whether to remove McCarthy as speaker. If it comes to a floor vote, only a simple majority (218 votes) is needed to pass.
McCarthy told reporters, “I’m confident I will hold on.”
A motion to vacate has only been used one time in U.S. history: in 1910 when members unsuccessfully tried to remove Speaker Joseph Cannon (R-Ill.).
In 2015, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) filed a motion to vacate against then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), but Boehner ultimately resigned his seat.
As Time noted, the no confidence challenge to his leadership from the 40+ members of the House Freedom Caucus would have forced Boehner into the arms of Democrats to survive, a move he was unwilling to make.
McCarthy says that he will not seek to cut a deal with Democrats to retain his position as speaker. Some Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), say they intend to vote against him.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) says House Republicans “need to choose someone” as Speaker “that has the ability to govern, because it’s not [Kevin McCarthy].”
Reporter: “Are you confident that Democrats will not save Kevin McCarthy?”
Schiff: “Well, I know I’m gonna vote against him.” pic.twitter.com/b6JM28nXmT
— The Recount (@therecount) October 3, 2023
“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 said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, after weeks of threats to file the motion. “Look, the one thing everybody has in common is that nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy.”
Gaetz said during a speech he delivered when filing the motion that McCarthy had inked a secret deal with President Joe Biden to continue providing money to Ukraine.
“It is becoming increasingly clear who the speaker of the House already works for and it’s not the Republican conference,” Gaetz said.
“To extend Joe Biden’s spending and Joe Biden’s policy priorities, the Speaker of the House gave away to Joe Biden the money for Ukraine that Joe Biden wanted,” Gaetz added. “It is going to be difficult for my Republican friends to keep calling President Biden feeble, while he continues to take Speaker McCarthy’s lunch money in every negotiation.”
Conservatives remain divided over the effort to remove McCarthy as speaker, with some criticizing his reticence in forcing significant cuts to federal spending, and others noting the electoral risk that a floor vote could carry for members in swing districts.
Last November, I ran for House Speaker because I feared that Kevin McCarthy would not rein in federal spending and take on Democrats.
As seen by his latest CR, these fears are now reality.
He cannot remain Speaker.https://t.co/lyImFCOHgI
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) October 2, 2023
Please stop doing this @mattgaetz. You make great points, but your fellow Republicans aren't all in safe seats like yours. YOUR NO. 1 JOB: WIN MAJORITIES IN THE HOUSE & SENATE. Then get a better speaker.https://t.co/7veRLo3ruG
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 3, 2023