4th October 2023 – (Washington) In a private meeting with rank-and-file Republicans, Speaker Kevin McCarthy made it clear that he would call a vote on Rep. Matt Gaetz’s resolution to remove him from the speaker’s office. Lawmakers leaving the meeting confirmed McCarthy’s intention to confront the resolution head-on.
“He’s going to rely on his record, and then we will vote on whether to retain him based on that record,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, a fellow California Republican and ally of McCarthy, as he exited the closed-door meeting held in the Capitol basement.
According to House rules, McCarthy had until Wednesday to address the resolution filed by Gaetz, a conservative Republican from Florida and a staunch supporter of Donald Trump. However, McCarthy and his supporters are moving swiftly to address the motion to vacate, which has been a significant distraction in the Capitol.
“I understand the political dynamics. I know where people stand,” McCarthy told reporters. However, he added, “I genuinely believe that if you remove a speaker who has the support of 99% of their conference, someone who has kept the government open and ensured payment for the troops, it puts us in a very precarious position.”
The Gaetz resolution will be considered by the full House during the first vote series of the day, scheduled for 1:30 p.m., according to lawmakers.
Given the rarity of declaring the speakership vacant (the last occurrence was in 1910 when Speaker Joseph Cannon declared the chair vacant against himself), it remains uncertain how the process will unfold.
Before a vote of no confidence, an ally of McCarthy is expected to propose tabling or delaying the vote to remove the speaker. Allies can also vote to refer the resolution to a committee. If any of these procedural tactics succeed, further proceedings will be halted.
However, if all 212 House Democrats unite and vote alongside the five declared opponents of McCarthy, they will achieve a simple majority to overcome the delay tactics and proceed directly to the vote on removing McCarthy. The five Republicans seeking to expel McCarthy are Gaetz, Reps. Andy Biggs and Eli Crane of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, and Tim Burchett of Tennessee.
Several senior Democrats have stated that they will not vote to save McCarthy from the mutiny. Although many House Democrats refrained from revealing how they would vote on the motion to vacate during their conference meeting, they emphasized the importance of “unity” within the party in determining the way forward.
“We are not saving Kevin McCarthy,” said Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., as she left the meeting.
During the Democrats’ meeting, the leadership played a recording of McCarthy’s Sunday interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” in which he accused Democrats of wanting to shut down the government during last week’s standoff. Many rank-and-file Democrats were infuriated by his remarks.
While Democrats expressed a range of opinions on what to do, no one came to McCarthy’s defence, according to Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.
Neal and others stated that they would defer to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. “I’m going to listen to what the leader has to say and rally around him,” Neal said.
However, there are Democrats who maintain that they will not, under any circumstances, support McCarthy.
“I will vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker. I will not enable him,” stated Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. “From my perspective, it goes against the interests of the Democratic Party and the country to allow him to remain in office.”
“He’s a MAGA extremist in his politics and stands against everything we hold dear,” Connolly continued.
Other Democrats did not disclose their voting intentions but emphasised the need for Democrats to remain united in the face of the GOP’s internal conflict over McCarthy’s future.