Gaetz says he will seek to oust McCarthy as speaker this week. ‘Bring it on,’ McCarthy says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz said on Sunday that he will try to depose House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican, this week after McCarthy relied on Democratic support to pass legislation averting a government shutdown. “Bring it on,” McCarthy said.

Gaetz, a longtime McCarthy foe, said in broadcast interviews that McCarthy was in “brazen, material breach” of agreements he made with House Republicans when he ran for speaker in January. As a result, Gaetz announced that he would file a “motion to vacate the chair,” as allowed by House rules.

“So be it,” McCarthy responded. Let it rip. Let’s get this over with and get to work governing.”

No speaker has ever been removed from office in this manner. Procedural votes could be used to stop the motion, or it could result in a House floor vote on whether McCarthy, R-Calif., should remain speaker.

“I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid,” Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said. “I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.”

Republicans have just finished a tumultuous week in which Congress flirted with a government shutdown and the majority party in the House couldn’t even pass its own bill to avoid a shutdown. Many Republican lawmakers complained that the House dragged its feet on passing annual spending bills, wasting an opportunity to force the Senate to negotiate on spending and policy priorities.

During his nearly nine months on the job, McCarthy has consistently worked to appease the conservative wing of his conference. He launched an impeachment investigation into President Joe Biden last month without a House vote, despite the fact that the speaker had previously stated that the lack of such a vote created a process devoid of legitimacy. McCarthy has also proposed spending levels for next year that are significantly lower than the caps he agreed to with Biden as part of a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling so that the government could pay its bills.

On Friday, he presented a short-term funding plan for the government that would enact steep spending cuts of nearly 30% for many agencies as well as strict border security provisions. However, some Republicans deemed this insufficient, and 21 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting against the package.

McCarthy shifted his focus on Saturday to a bill that would garner Democratic support. It funds agencies at current levels until mid-November and provides $16 billion in disaster relief to states and communities affected by hurricanes and other natural disasters. Democrats jumped at the chance to keep the government open, and the bill was easily passed by both chambers.

Gaetz had threatened to file an impeachment motion if McCarthy worked with Democrats, and he claimed the spending package exceeded the spending limits that McCarthy had previously agreed to.

McCarthy has the support of a large majority of House Republicans, but due to the GOP’s slim 221-212 majority, he may require votes from some Democrats to keep his job. When asked how many Republicans he had on board, Gaetz said he had enough to ensure that if McCarthy remains speaker, he will “be serving at the pleasure of the Democrats.”

“The only way Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out,” Gaetz stated.

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she would vote to remove McCarthy as speaker if such a vote were held, calling him a “weak speaker” who had “lost control of his caucus.” She did, however, leave the door open for negotiations, stating that Democratic support for McCarthy would come at a cost.

“You don’t vote for a Republican speaker for no reason. “That is not what we were elected to do here,” Ocasio-Cortez stated.

When asked if Democrats should help McCarthy keep his job, Biden remained silent.

“I don’t have a vote in that matter,” Biden said at the White House on Sunday. “I’ll leave that to the leadership in the House and the Senate.”

Many House Republicans have expressed displeasure with Gaetz’s tactics. Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., called Gaetz’s speech a “diatribe of delusional thinking” and said he was acting for “personal, political reasons.” McCarthy charged Gaetz with being “more interested in securing TV interviews than doing something.”

McCarthy is still unpopular among some members of his own party. That was evident in January, when he needed 15 rounds of voting to gain the support he required within his conference to become speaker.

The House rules allow any single lawmaker, Democrat or Republican, to make a “motion to vacate the chair,” which is essentially an attempt to remove the speaker from that position through a privileged resolution.

McCarthy agreed to allow as few as five Republican members to initiate a vote to remove him when he ran for speaker in January. When that was not enough for his detractors, he reduced the threshold to one — the system that had previously been the norm.

Proponents of allowing a single lawmaker to file the motion said it promotes accountability, citing the House’s long history. The motion was last used in 2015, when then-North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican who later became President Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, introduced a resolution to declare the speaker’s office vacant. Boehner, R-Ohio, announced his resignation two months later.

McCarthy predicted Gaetz’s defeat on Sunday, saying Gaetz has been after him since he ran for speaker.

“Yes, I’ll survive,” McCarthy assured.

McCarthy appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and ABC’s “This Week,” while Gaetz appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Ocasio-Cortez appeared on CNN, while Lawler appeared on ABC.

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