Matt Gaetz threatens to oust Kevin McCarthy as House speaker despite impeachment inquiry

Gaetz threatens to file a motion to vacate the chair if McCarthy passes a continuing resolution to keep the government open

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 12 September 2023 20:27 BST
Matt Gaetz threatens to file a motion to oust Kevin McCarth

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Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement that the House would begin an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden did little to quell Rep Matt Gaetz (R-FL) as the firebrand congressman threatened to stage a coup against the speaker on Tuesday.

Mr Gaetz made remarks on the House floor shortly after Mr McCarthy announced that the House would launch an impeachment inquiry into the president. But the Florida Republican said that he was not satisfied with the announcement, saying that Republicans had not sent a subpoena to Hunter Biden.

“That’s how you know that the rushed and somewhat rattled performance you just saw from the speaker isn’t real,” he said, contrasting it with how Democrats handled the first impeachment of former president Donald Trump.

“This is a baby step following weeks of pressure from house conservatives to do more,” he said. “We must move faster.”

Mr Gaetz accused Mr McCarthy of breaking the agreements he made with conservatives earlier this year when he ultimately obtained the speaker’s gavel.

“Mr Speaker, you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role,” Mr Gaetz said. “The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate total compliance or remove you, pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair.”

A motion to vacate would trigger a no-confidence vote, even though Mr Gaetz acknowledged it might not pass. Specifically, Mr Gaetz criticised the fact that the House had not staged a vote on term limits for members, an amendment to balance the federal budget or to release all of the tapes from the January 6 riot.

“There’s been insufficient accountability for the Biden crime family, and instead of cutting spending to raise the debt limit, you relied on budgetary gimmicks and rescissions so that you ultimately ended up serving as the valet to underwrite Biden’s debt and advance his spending agenda,” he said. “The only thing the 118th Congress is known for at this point is electing Kevin McCarthy speaker and underwriting Biden’s debt and unfortunately there’s only one of those things we can remediate at this time.”

He also criticised House Republican leadership for asking the House to vote to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open, saying it would allow for Democratic spending priorities to continue as well as Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigations into Mr Trump to continue.

“Mr Speaker, we told you how to use the power of the purse,” he said. “Individual, single subject spending bills that would allow us to have specific review, programmatic analysis and would allow us to zero out the salaries of the bureaucrats who have broken bad, targeted President Trump or cut sweetheart deals for Hunter Biden.”

During a call with reporters after his speech, Mr Gaetz said that he would file a motion to vacate immediately if the House put a clean continuing resolution with no stipulations on the floor.

“If Kevin McCarthy puts a continuing resolution on the floor, it's going to be shot-chaser,” he said. “Continuing resolution, motion to vacate.”

Mr Gaetz also hit at Democrats including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, saying he would call them out if they bailed out Mr McCarthy in a motion to vacate vote.

“I know that Washington isn’t a town where people are known for keeping their word,” he said. “Well, Speaker McCarthy, I’m here to hold you to yours.”

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