The prospects of a leadership shakeup in the U.S. House of Representatives loomed Thursday, as some Republican members indicated they may try to force Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from his post.
McCarthy, for his part, affirmed his commitment to the House and his determination to remain in the speakership despite the developing challenge from the GOP conference.
“I’m a little Irish, okay? I don’t walk away from a battle,” McCarthy said during a news conference on Thursday.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has indicated he may bring a “motion to vacate” that could pave the way for a no-confidence vote against McCarthy. Gaetz believes that McCarthy is “out of compliance” with a deal struck in January that allowed him to become speaker after 15 rounds of voting, citing a lack of action on reining in spending, balancing the budget, releasing the January 6 tapes, term limits, and sending out subpoenas to members of President Joe Biden’s family.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): “Mr. Speaker you are out of compliance with agreement that allowed you to assume this role. The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate total compliance, or remove you pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair.” pic.twitter.com/TXcrrsRuiF
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 12, 2023
McCarthy, however, has dismissed the threats of ousting him. “Most people get to speaker on the first round — [it] took me 15. Threats don’t matter. Sometimes people do those things because of personal things, and that’s all fine,” McCarthy said on Thursday.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy is asked what his message is to members who have threatened to try to oust him after a testy House GOP meeting:
“Sometimes people do those things because of personal things … I don’t walk away from a battle … If it takes a fight, I’ll have a fight.” pic.twitter.com/347fOUBpHg
— The Recount (@therecount) September 14, 2023
According to the house rules package approved for this session of Congress, only a single member is needed to trigger the process that could lead to a no-confidence vote for the speaker. To succeed, a simple majority is required, which could mean a coalition of Republicans and Democrats could come together and vote McCarthy out of the speakership.
At least one other Republican, Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ), has expressed an openness to attempting to remove McCarthy, indicating a challenge is gathering steam.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) excoriated House Republicans for the threat of a government shutdown at the end of September, an impeachment inquiry, and what Jeffries called an effort to forward “right-wing ideology.”
The coming days will likely bring more developments in the push to remove McCarthy as Speaker of the House. If successful, the new speaker’s leadership could potentially have a drastic effect on American policy in the coming months and years. For now, however, McCarthy appears emboldened by the challenge and ready to fight for his position in the speakership.