Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, has filed a motion to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the speaker of the House, accusing him of working with Democrats to pass a bill that prevented a government shutdown. Gaetz said he had enough support from other Republicans to force a vote on McCarthy’s leadership, which could happen as soon as this week.
Gaetz’s motion came after McCarthy agreed to a deal with Democrats on Saturday to extend government funding through November 17, avoiding a shutdown that would have affected hundreds of thousands of federal workers. Gaetz and other conservatives criticized McCarthy for relying on Democratic votes instead of fighting for Republican priorities, such as blocking aid to Ukraine and opposing Biden’s infrastructure plan.
McCarthy dismissed Gaetz’s challenge, saying he was confident he had the backing of his caucus. He said he was acting in the best interest of the institution and the country, and that he was not afraid of a vote. “Bring it on,” he tweeted on Monday.
The motion to vacate the chair is a rare parliamentary procedure that allows any member of the House to call for a new speaker election. It requires a simple majority of voting members present to pass, meaning McCarthy can only afford to lose five votes within his conference if all members participate. However, House leadership can use various tactics to delay or block the motion from reaching the floor.
Gaetz acknowledged that his motion might fail on the first try, but he said he was prepared to keep pushing until McCarthy was ousted or forced to work with Republicans instead of Democrats. He said he wanted McCarthy to explain his “secret side deal” with Biden on Ukraine, and that he expected more Republicans to join his cause.
This is not the first time Gaetz has clashed with McCarthy. Gaetz has been a vocal supporter of former President Trump and a leader of the far-right Freedom Caucus, which has often opposed McCarthy’s moderate approach. Gaetz is also facing federal investigations into allegations of sex trafficking and corruption, which have damaged his reputation and influence in the House.