Speaker McCarthy Says ‘Bring It On’ After Rep. Gaetz Vows Notice to Vacate

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz announced plans on Sunday to push for the removal of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., after accusing him of siding with Democrats to prevent a government shutdown.

McCarthy promptly replied, “Bring it on.”

Gaetz has frequently disagreed with McCarthy. He claims McCarthy went against a commitment he made with House Republicans earlier this year when he pursued the position of House Speaker. Citing these breaches, Gaetz revealed his intentions to invoke a “motion to vacate the chair” in line with House regulations.

In return, McCarthy retorted, “If that’s the way it is, so be it. Let’s wrap this up and get down to governance.”

No House Speaker has been displaced through this procedure before. There could be procedural votes to stop such a move or it might lead to a direct House vote to determine McCarthy’s fate as Speaker.

“We need a change,” Gaetz expressed, “We need dependable leadership going forward.”

The Republican party faced challenges last week, notably struggling to pass a bill to avert a government shutdown. Some GOP members felt the House delayed the annual spending bills too long, missing an opportunity to push Senate discussions on spending and policy goals.

In his leadership role for roughly nine months, McCarthy has tried to appease the conservative faction of his party. He initiated an impeachment process against President Joe Biden without a House consensus. Despite previously criticizing such unilateral decisions, McCarthy also proposed budgetary limits for the upcoming year that were significantly below what he had agreed upon with Biden regarding the national debt ceiling.

To avoid a shutdown, McCarthy proposed a temporary plan on Friday to fund the government. This included major budget cuts of about 30% for several agencies and tight border control measures. This plan, however, was rejected by many, including 21 Republicans who voted against it alongside Democrats.

By Saturday, McCarthy introduced a new bill, designed to gain Democratic backing. This bill maintained agency funding till mid-November and allocated $16 billion for disaster relief. This proposition was welcomed by Democrats and passed with a significant majority.

Gaetz criticized McCarthy for allegedly crossing previously established spending limits and warned of his motion if McCarthy cooperated with Democrats.

Despite enjoying the backing of a majority of House Republicans, McCarthy’s slim majority (221-212) could mean he’d require Democratic support to remain in position. Gaetz asserted that McCarthy might only remain Speaker with Democratic assistance.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., labeled McCarthy a “weak speaker” and hinted at the possibility of voting against him. However, she also mentioned potential negotiations. “Supporting a Republican Speaker isn’t a straightforward choice,” she stated.

President Biden refrained from commenting on whether Democrats should support McCarthy.

Gaetz’s approach has faced criticism from many within the GOP. Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., described Gaetz’s actions as driven by “personal political agendas,” an opinion McCarthy shared, accusing Gaetz of prioritizing media appearances over meaningful action.

McCarthy’s popularity within his party has faced hurdles, evident when he struggled to secure backing for the Speaker position earlier this year.

House regulations allow any member to propose a “motion to vacate the chair.” In January, McCarthy agreed to let a small group of Republicans initiate a vote for his removal. However, he later changed this to just one member, as per historical norms.

Supporters of this provision believe it encourages accountability, noting its longstanding history. The last time this motion was used was in 2015, leading to the resignation of Boehner, R-Ohio, a few months later.

McCarthy remained confident against Gaetz’s challenge, stating, “I’ll get through this.”

Both Gaetz and McCarthy made appearances on popular Sunday TV shows to discuss the ongoing issues.