Representative Matt Gaetz has announced his intention to remove fellow Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership position. Gaetz, historically at odds with McCarthy, criticized him for relying on Democratic support to pass legislation and avoid a government shutdown.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gaetz accused McCarthy of violating agreements made with House Republicans in January when he ran for speaker. As a result, Gaetz plans to file a motion following House rules that would “vacate the chair.”
McCarthy, however, responded defiantly, stating on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “So be it. Bring it on. Let’s get over with it and let’s start governing.”
This move has never before resulted in the removal of a speaker from office. Procedural votes could potentially halt the motion, or it could trigger a House floor vote on McCarthy’s future as speaker.
Gaetz, representing Florida, expressed his belief that it is time to move forward with new leadership that can be trusted. “I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid,” he remarked.
While McCarthy enjoys the support of a significant majority of House Republicans, due to their slim majority, he may need votes from Democrats to retain his position. Gaetz pointed out, “The only way Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out.”
Countering the Diatribe
Rep. Mike Lawler of New York sharply criticized Rep. Gaetz’s recent statements, describing them as a “diatribe of delusional thinking.” Lawler, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” claimed that Gaetz’s motives were purely personal and political.
In the House, there exists a provision that grants any individual lawmaker, regardless of their party affiliation, the power to issue a “motion to vacate the chair.” This motion aims to remove the Speaker of the House from their leadership position through a privileged resolution.
In an attempt to mollify some conservative voices and secure their votes for speaker, Rep. McCarthy made concessions back in January. Initially, he agreed to grant this power to as few as five Republican members. However, when his critics demanded more, McCarthy further reduced the threshold to just one member—a departure from historical norms.
Supporters of allowing solitary lawmakers to initiate such motions argue that it promotes accountability. They highlight the long-standing tradition of this practice within the House. The most recent employment of the motion dates back to 2015, when Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina introduced a resolution declaring the speaker’s office vacant. Ultimately, two months later, Speaker Boehner of Ohio announced his decision to step down from his position.