Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Sunday said he will push to unseat House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this week, vowing to make good on his threat after McCarthy backed a measure to prevent a government shutdown a day earlier that won broad bipartisan support.
“I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week,” Gaetz told CNN “State of the Union” anchor Jake Tapper. “I think we need to rip off the band-aid. I think we need to move on with leadership that’s trustworthy.”
Gaetz for months has been threatening to file a motion to vacate, which would essentially be a vote on ending McCarthy’s Speakership. Because Republicans have only a slim majority in the House, only a handful of Republicans would have to back Gaetz’s motion for it to be successful — as long as Democrats vote with them.
The minority party would generally be expected to back such a motion, since Democrats would prefer one of their own — Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) — as Speaker.
Gaetz, a constant critic of McCarthy, said the one thing everyone has is common is they do not trust the California Republican, claiming the Speaker’s “goal was to delay everything” and force the House into a corner to pass the bill Saturday by the funding deadline.
When pressed over how many Republicans he has behind him, Gaetz said he has enough that the only way McCarthy would be Speaker in a week is if Democrats backed him up.
“Enough so that when you host this show next week, if Kevin McCarthy is still Speaker of the House he will be serving at the pleasure of the Democrats,” Gaetz said. “He will be working for the Democrats. The only way that McCarthy will be Speaker of the House is if Democrats bail him out. Now they probably will.”
Gaetz said he will not back any deals with Democrats to keep McCarthy as Speaker, telling Tapper, “If Democrats want to own Kevin McCarthy by bailing him out, I can’t stop them, but then he’ll be their Speaker, not mine.”
After exhausting options to pass a GOP-only stopgap plan, McCarthy rushed on Saturday to roll out a bipartisan continuing resolution (CR) to the ire of hard-liner House Republicans.
The CR will fund the government at current spending levels through Nov. 17. The funding increases federal disaster assistance by $16 billion to meet the Biden administration’s previous request, but does not include any funding for Ukraine, a White House priority largely opposed by several GOP members.
Gaetz claimed McCarthy is making a “secret deal” with Democrats on Ukraine funding, but did not provide specific details.
“Kevin McCarthy is off making a secret deal on Ukraine, as he’s baiting Republicans to vote for a continuing resolution that doesn’t include Ukraine,” Gaetz said on ABC’s “This Week.” “So the one thing Democrats, Republicans, the White House that we all have in common is that Kevin McCarthy at one point or another, has lied to all of us. But if he wants to keep them, then he belongs to them.”
The CR also lacks spending cuts or border policy changes, dealing a blow to hardline conservatives who objected any CR without such changes.
Despite the continued pushback from some GOP members, the measure was cleared by the House in a largely bipartisan 335-91 vote on Saturday, with one Democrat and 90 Republicans voting in opposition. The bill then overwhelmingly passed in the Senate in an 88-9 vote, with nine Republicans opposing the bill.
President Biden signed the bill Saturday to keep the government open for 47 days, emphasizing Congress now has “plenty of time” to pass government funding bills.
This story was updated at 9:51 a.m.
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