Speaker Kevin McCarthy again threatened with loss of his gavel: With Congress about to return to session, the right flank of the House GOP caucus is threatening to depose House Speaker Kevin McCarthy if he doesn’t comply with specific demands.
Kevin McCarthy Has a Problem
When Kevin McCarthy was elected House Speaker earlier this year, after more than a dozen ballots, the dissidents on the right flank of the House Republican caucus managed to get a clause included in the House rules, allowing any member of the caucus to call for a “motion to vacate” the Speaker’s chair.
This meant, essentially, that any member of the House could call for McCarthy’s removal at any time, although doing so would require a vote of the full chamber. With the Republicans holding only a small majority, a few GOP votes could combine with every Democrat to remove McCarthy.
There has been no push to remove McCarthy in the first eight months of his speakership, even after the speaker reached a deal with President Biden in the spring to stave off a debt ceiling crisis that drew fewer concessions than what the GOP was hoping.
But now, with Congress returning from its summer recess, there are indications that the right flank in the House is preparing to demand a lot more from McCarthy- and that his gavel could hang in the balance.
Axios reported Wednesday that members of the House GOP are “signaling potential moves against Speaker Kevin McCarthy during leadership’s frantic September push.”
Congress must pass a spending bill by the end of September to avoid a government shutdown, while McCarthy is under pressure from his caucus to pursue an impeachment inquiry of President Biden.
“I think it’s [motion to vacate] in the back of everybody’s mind … If somebody brings that it wouldn’t take much, you know, it just takes a couple of votes,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) told Axios.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who was part of the “never Kevin” caucus that opposed McCarthy’s candidacy, was more blunt in a recent radio interview.
“When we get back to Washington in the coming weeks, we have got to seize the initiative. That means forcing votes on impeachment. And if Kevin McCarthy stands in our way, you may not have the job long,” Gaetz said on The Todd Starnes Show, as reported by Axios.
However, removing McCarthy would leave the GOP in a position to have to pick a new speaker, and to settle on a candidate who could satisfy the right flank’s demands while also being able to win a majority of the House’s votes.
It’s not clear whether the priority for the GOP caucus will be impeachment, or trying to pass a spending bill. There is also, per Axios, some disagreement about how exactly to go about pursuing the budget talks. Some in the caucus want to attach the party’s border security legislation to the budget resolution, while others would prefer to pass a shorter-term continuing resolution.
“I’ve been picking up chatter that they want to do a motion to vacate if we do a CR, but a lot of people want a CR to get more time and to attach HR 2,” one lawmaker told Axios.
Another House member told Axios that, between the tiny Republican majority in the House and some members being out due to health problems, cobbling together a majority will be difficult.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the currently embattled Senate Republican leader, told the news outlet that the budget cuts favored by Republicans are unlikely to make it through the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats.
“The Speaker and the president reached an agreement which I supported in connection with raising the debt ceiling to set spending levels for next year,” McConnell said last week, of the debt ceiling agreement reached in the spring.
“The House then turned around and passed spending levels that were below that level. Without stating an opinion about that, that’s not going to be replicated in the Senate,” McConnell said, per Axios.
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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