Republicans support scrapping rule that allowed Gaetz to oust McCarthy

Earlier this year, Kevin McCarthy agreed to lower the threshold for the motion to vacate from a party’s majority to one member

Ariana Baio
Thursday 05 October 2023 20:43 BST
McCarthy hits back after Matt Gaetz-led coup to oust him

A tumultuous few days in the House of Representatives have seemingly left some Republicans feeling defeated enough to ponder a world without the rule that allowed a single lawmaker to oust the speaker of the House.

Once again, the House is in disarray trying to determine a new speaker after Kevin McCarthy was removed from his speakership on Tuesday.

It’s all thanks to Florida Rep Matt Gaetz who single-handedly introduced a motion to vacate Mr McCarthy after weeks of head-butting amongst far-right and moderate House Republicans.

The motion to vacate rule currently allows for one member to introduce it – ironically it’s a reduction from the previous threshold required to introduce the motion that Mr McCarthy agreed to when he became speaker earlier this year.

But the rule has led some GOP representatives and senators to criticise it.

“I think that the one-person motion to vacate – I actually, frankly, think is a little bit insane,” Florida representative Carlos Gimenez told CNN.

Mr Gimenez said the rule should be changed to require at least 50 per cent of each party’s conference in order to move forward to a vote.

When Democrats were in charge of the House in 2019, the rule required a party leader or majority vote by the party to introduce the motion.

New York representative Mike Lawler told CNN that the single-member rule makes it difficult for the Republican Party to accomplish its goals.

North Dakota representative Kelly Armstrong said until something is done about it the Republican Party is “held hostage by a very, very, very small minority of our conference” whose “incentive structure is just quite different than reasonable responsible government.”

“I hope whoever the next speaker is gets rid of the motion to vacate. I think it makes the speaker’s job impossible,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Wednesday.

For the second time this year, House Republicans are facing mockery from the public for failing to stand behind a speaker of the house.

Earlier this year, the House conducted 15 rounds of voting before Mr McCarthy eventually was elected to the speakership with several far-right Republicans refusing to vote for him until he made some concessions (including the motion to vacate change)

The contentious election led to some concerns about the unity of Republicans in the House.

Now that the single-member rule has been proven to be a potential problem, several GOP House members said they wouldn’t support any candidates for speaker until the pledge to change the rule.

Mr Gimenez said he wouldn’t throw his support behind any speaker candidate until they agree to change the rule.

Lauren Boebert, a far-right representative from Colorado, tweeted that she would “ditch” the rule so long as rep Jim Jordan was elected speaker.

She called the motion to vacate a “mechanism-based to ensure promises are kept by the Speaker.”

The House is expected to hold a vote for the new speaker on Wednesday.

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