Gaetz says he will seek to oust McCarthy as speaker this week. ‘Bring it on,’ McCarthy says

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks to Attorney General Merrick Garland as he appears before a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Matt Gaetz said Sunday he will try to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican, from his leadership position this week after McCarthy relied on Democratic support to pass legislation that avoided a government shutdown. “Bring it on,” McCarthy responded.

Gaetz, a longtime McCarthy nemesis, said in broadcast interviews that McCarthy was in “brazen, material breach” of agreements he made with House Republicans in January when he ran for speaker. As a result, Gaetz said he would be filing a ” motion to vacate the chair,” as House rules permit.

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McCarthy’s response: “So be it. Bring it on. Let’s get over with it and let’s start governing.”

No speaker has ever been removed from office through such a move. Procedural votes could be offered to halt the motion or it could trigger a House floor vote on whether McCarthy, R-Calif., should remain speaker.

“I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid,” said Gaetz, R-Fla. “I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.”

Republicans just ended a tumultuous week in which Congress flirted with a government closure and the majority party in the House could not even pass its own bill in an effort to avoid a shutdown. Many GOP lawmakers complained the House waited too long to take up annual spending bills, squandering an opportunity to force the Senate to negotiate on spending and policy priorities.

McCarthy has consistently worked to placate the conservative wing of his conference during his nearly nine months on the job. Last month, he launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden without a House vote, though the speaker had in the past said the failure to have such a vote created a process devoid of legitimacy. McCarthy also has pushed spending levels for next year that are far below the caps he agreed to with Biden on a deal to extend the nation’s debt ceiling so that the government could pay its bills.

On Friday, he brought a short-term plan to fund the government that would enact steep spending cuts of nearly 30% for many agencies and strict border security provisions. But that was deemed insufficient by some Republicans, and 21 joined with every Democrat in voting against the package.

McCarthy pivoted on Saturday to a bill that would draw Democratic support. It keeps agencies funded at current levels into mid-November.

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