A rebellion against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is underway after Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., followed through on his threats to introduce a motion to vacate.
Gaetz, the ring-leader of a handful of anti-McCarthy Republicans, accused the speaker of reneging on his commitments to conservatives after the House passed a 45-day continuing resolution to fund the government. The measure averted a shutdown, but conservative hardliners argue a continuing resolution breaks GOP campaign promises by extending spending levels set by the last Democratic-controlled Congress.
Because of Gaetz’s motion, the House must vote on whether to keep McCarthy as speaker. Though McCarthy is supported by the vast majority of the GOP conference, if Democrats are united in opposition, only five Republicans need to vote against McCarthy to take away his gavel.
As of Tuesday morning, at least five Republican lawmakers, including Gaetz, have said they will vote to oust McCarthy.
They are Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Eli Crane, R-Ariz., Bob Good, R-Va., and Tim Burchett, R-Tenn.
“Last November, I ran for House Speaker because I feared that Kevin McCarthy would not rein in federal spending and take on Democrats. As seen by his latest CR, these fears are now reality. He cannot remain speaker,” Biggs wrote on X Monday evening.
Adding to the intrigue is what Democrats could do. If some moderate lawmakers vote “present,” then the threshold for McCarthy to remain speaker is lowered, and he will survive the GOP defections.
Gaetz has accused McCarthy of negotiating a “side deal” with Democrats to bring up a supplemental package with aid for Ukraine in exchange for their help to remain speaker.
Lawmakers removed $6 billion in Ukraine funding from the short-term spending bill that kept the government open, which prompted an objection from Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., that nearly derailed the deal. However, Bennet released a hold on the continuing resolution after he said Senate leadership committed to fully funding Ukraine in a supplemental package.
McCarthy has made no public commitment. However, President Biden told CBS on Sunday there was a deal with McCarthy on Ukraine, though he gave no details.
If true, there is a possible incentive for Democrats to keep McCarthy as speaker to secure a House vote on Ukraine aid.
McCarthy has kept his head held high amid the dissension in his ranks. After Gaetz made his motion, he reacted with just three words in a post on X: “Bring it on.”
Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie, Tyler Olson, Chad Pergram, Kelly Phares and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.
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