Representative Matt Gaetz said on Sunday that he intends to follow through on his threats to file a motion to vacate Kevin McCarthy from his House speakership role after he passed a short-term spending bill opposed by House conservatives.
Congress passed the spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), as a last-minute effort to avert a government shutdown on Saturday. The bill funds the government at current levels for 45 days and excludes additional funding for Ukraine, a sticking point for House conservatives. The bill was passed in the House on bipartisan lines, with 91 conservative Republicans bucking McCarthy’s leadership to vote against it.
Gaetz, a Florida Republican, said he plans to file the motion against the speaker this week over the bill, calling for “new leadership that can be trustworthy” during an interview on CNN‘s State of the Union Sunday morning. He previously threatened to do so if McCarthy, a California Republican, worked with Democrats to pass a bill, rather than make more concessions to conservatives.
“Look, the one thing that everybody has in common is that nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz said.
He continued: “He lied to Biden. He lied to House conservatives. He had appropriators marking for a different number altogether. The reason we were backed up against shutdown politics is not a bug of the system. It’s a feature. Kevin McCarthy’s goal was to make multiple contradictory problems, to delay everything, back us up against shutdown politics, and at the end of the day, blow past the spending guardrails.”
McCarthy, meanwhile, responded to Gaetz during an interview on CBS News’ Face the Nation.
“This is personal with Matt. Matt has voted against the most conservative ability to protect our border, to secure our border. He’s more interested in securing TV interviews than doing something. He wanted to push us into a shutdown, even threatening his own district, with all the military people there who would not be paid, only because he wants to take this motion. So be it, bring it on. Let’s get over with it, and let’s start governing,” he said Sunday.
Any member of Congress can file a motion to vacate the speakership at any point, a concession McCarthy made to conservative hardliners in his effort to win their support during the contentious House speaker race in January. Once a motion is filed, it would take a simple majority to remove McCarthy.
Newsweek reached out to McCarthy’s office for comment via email.
During his appearance on CNN, Gaetz described McCarthy’s agreement with Democrats as a “last straw” for him, accusing the speaker of breaching an agreement with House conservatives. He also predicted that enough Republicans will vote against McCarthy that he will be “serving at the pleasure of the Democrats” if he survives the challenge.
“The only way Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out,” Gaetz said. “Now, they probably will. I actually think that when you believe in nothing, as Kevin McCarthy does, everything is negotiable.”
Gaetz Says He Won’t Work With Democrats to Challenge McCarthy
Gaetz said he would not agree to any deal with Democrats to topple McCarthy’s speakership, adding that they should side with him “for free.”
However, the Florida congressman would almost certainly need Democratic support to remove McCarthy from his position. Doing so would require 218 votes, and many House Republicans still remain supportive of McCarthy’s leadership, making them unlikely to back Gaetz’s challenge.
During another Sunday appearance on ABC News’ This Week, Gaetz said there are “a lot of talented people” in the Republican conference who could be considered for the House’s top role.
Meanwhile, McCarthy slammed Gaetz, without naming him, and other conservatives threatening to file a motion to vacate during a Saturday press conference after passing the short-term funding bill.
“When are you guys going to get over that it’s alright if you put America first? That it’s alright if Republicans and Democrats join together to do what is right? If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it. There has to be an adult in the room. I am going to govern with what is best for this country,” he said.