Following Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) announcement of his intention to file a motion to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership position in the upcoming week, McCarthy has issued a direct challenge to Gaetz, urging him to “proceed with his plan.”
Gaetz had pledged to submit a motion aimed at compelling a House floor vote on whether to remove McCarthy from his position as speaker after McCarthy brokered an agreement with President Joe Biden to pass a short-term funding bill, preventing a government shutdown. President Biden signed the bill into law just moments before the end of Fiscal Year 2023 funding.
Notably, Gaetz, along with 20 other Republicans, many of whom were members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, had previously voted against a funding bill that included provisions related to border security and other conservative priorities. This bill was unlikely to pass the Senate and almost certainly would have faced a presidential veto by President Biden.
In response to these developments, McCarthy remarked during an appearance on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, “This is a personal matter for Matt. Matt voted against the most conservative approach to securing our border. He seems more interested in securing television interviews than taking substantive action. He even threatened a government shutdown, putting at risk the livelihoods of the military personnel in his own district, all to pursue this motion. So, I say, let’s proceed with it; let’s get it over with and focus on governing. If he’s upset because he attempted to force a government shutdown, and I ensured that it didn’t happen, then let’s address that issue.”
House @SpeakerMcCarthy says Rep. Matt Gaetz is "trying to work with Democrats" in an effort to oust him from the speakership and has "reached out" to Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "and others." pic.twitter.com/YNDvkaUeEN— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) October 1, 2023
McCarthy also criticized Gaetz’s efforts to collaborate with Democrats in garnering support for his removal, labeling it as detrimental to the nation. While Gaetz has consistently accused McCarthy of cooperating with Democrats, it has been reported that Gaetz himself has been in contact with Democratic members of Congress in an attempt to secure sufficient votes for McCarthy’s removal from leadership and to engage in discussions about a potential successor to the position.
“Gaetz is attempting to collaborate with Democrats, having reached out to lawmakers such as Rep. Eric Swalwell of California and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. McCarthy expressed concerns about this approach to governance, stating that he doesn’t believe it will lead to success for America,” McCarthy stated.
Several Democrats have already pledged to support the motion to vacate McCarthy’s position, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York publicly stating her intention to vote against McCarthy during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. She criticized McCarthy as a weak speaker who has lost control of his caucus and who brought the nation to the brink by waiting until the last moment to keep the government open, even then providing only a 45-day extension.
Gaetz has been a vocal opponent of McCarthy from the outset, being one of the 20 Republicans who voted against McCarthy’s speakership during the House floor vote in January. Eventually, Gaetz and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado allowed McCarthy to assume the speakership by changing their votes to “present” on the 15th ballot.
In recent months, Gaetz has repeatedly threatened to initiate efforts to remove McCarthy from leadership. Last month, he issued a similar threat if McCarthy did not initiate an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, who was being investigated for alleged involvement in an influence-peddling scheme benefiting his son, Hunter, in various international business ventures. However, even after McCarthy launched the inquiry on September 12, Gaetz reiterated his intention to file a motion to vacate on the same day.
During his appearance on “Face the Nation” with host Margaret Brennan, McCarthy highlighted the accomplishments of House Republicans, including the passage of bills aimed at securing the U.S.-Mexico border and reducing the debt ceiling by $2 trillion. He also criticized the Senate for not passing an appropriations bill.
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