Gaetz says he will seek to oust McCarthy as speaker this week and calls for new House leadership

Rep. Matt Gaetz says he'll try to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican, from his leadership position this week

By Kevin Freking
Sunday 01 October 2023 10:19 EDT

Rep. Matt Gaetz said Sunday he will try to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican, from his leadership position this week after McCarthy relied on Democratic support to pass legislation that avoided a government shutdown.

Gaetz, a longtime McCarthy nemesis, said McCarthy was in “brazen, material breach” of agreements he made with House Republicans in January when he ran for speaker. As a result, Gaetz said he would be filing a “ motion to vacate the chair,” as House rules permit.

No speaker has ever been removed from office through such a move. Procedural votes could be offered to halt the motion or it could trigger a House floor vote on whether McCarthy, R-Calif., should remain speaker.

“I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid," Gaetz, R-Fla., told CNN's “State of the Union.” “I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.”

McCarthy has the support of a large majority of House Republicans, but because the GOP holds such a slim majority, he may need votes from some Democrats to keep his job.

“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.

The rules of the House allow for any single lawmaker — Democrat or Republican — to make a “motion to vacate the chair,” essentially an attempt to oust the speaker from that leadership post through a privileged resolution.

In January, McCarthy, hoping to appease some on the hard right as he fought to gain their vote for speaker, agreed to give as few as five Republican members the ability to initiate a vote to remove him. But when that was not good enough for his critics, he agreed to reduce that threshold to one — the system that historically has been the norm.

Proponents of allowing a lone lawmaker to file the motion said it promotes accountability, noting its long history in the House. The last use of the motion was in 2015, when then-Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a Republican who later became President Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, introduced a resolution to declare the speaker’s office vacant. Two months later, Boehner, R-Ohio, said he would be stepping down.

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Associated Press staff writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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