Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida filed a motion Monday to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his position.
Gaetz had vowed to bring such a “motion to vacate the chair” following Congress’ rapid enactment of a continuing resolution on Saturday to avoid a government shutdown, which was supported in the House by Democrats and moderate Republicans but opposed by GOP conservatives. Gaetz has argued that McCarthy’s decision to accept Democratic support breached an agreement reached in January, which led to his speakership after 15 rounds of voting, as well as claimed that he engaged in a “secret side deal” with President Joe Biden to fund Ukraine’s war effort against Russia, which he and other House Republicans have opposed, leading him to file a motion to vacate the chair on Monday.
“Resolved, the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives is hereby declared to be vacant,” Gaetz read from his privileged resolution at the conclusion of Monday’s votes.
Under House Resolution 5, the rule package for the 118th Congress, a motion to vacate the chair may be brought by just one member. Submitted as a privileged motion, it will then receive a final vote within 48 hours unless it is “tabled” by a majority of the whole House, which would permanently suspend further proceedings.
It is unlikely that McCarthy has the votes to table Gaetz’s motion before it receives a final vote, with all Democrats likely to support removing him. The House Republican Conference’s majority of merely four seats means that McCarthy can only afford to lose five votes to keep his job.
At least one other Republican, Rep. Eli Crane of Arizona, supports removing McCarthy from office, while several other House conservatives who voted against the continuing resolution have not yet articulated their positions. Crane and Gaetz’s backing means that McCarthy can only afford to lose three other House Republicans.
Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona asked the public on X, formerly known as Twitter, whether they think McCarthy should be removed.
If McCarthy is removed from office, all work in the House of Representatives would immediately cease — including committees and investigations, such as the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden — until the House elects a new speaker. At this time, there is no consensus on who would succeed McCarthy in the Republican conference.
McCarthy’s immediate deputy, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, is currently receiving treatment for blood cancer, while House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, the third-ranked House Republican, has refused to be considered for the role. “I fully support Speaker McCarthy. He knows that and I know that. I have zero interest in palace intrigue. End of discussion,” he said.
A draft motion to vacate the chair in Gaetz’s name was previously found in a bathroom on the U.S. Capitol grounds on Sept. 19, though it was never submitted.
If Gaetz’s motion to vacate the chair is tabled, he has vowed to continue filing such resolutions to fatigue the House into acceptance, saying the House will begin each day with “the prayer, the pledge and the motion to vacate,” according to Politico.
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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