Sep 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Matt Gaetz threatens McCarthy with daily attempt to remove him as speaker

US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is seen in the Spin Room following the first Republican Presidential primary debate at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 23, 2023. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) after the first Republican Presidential primary debate. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) — who helped lead the unsuccessful effort to deny Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) speakership bid —said Tuesday that McCarthy is "out of compliance" with the terms of the deal he made with conservatives to become speaker.

Driving the news: The Florida Republican laid out a scenario of starting "every single day in Congress with the prayer, the pledge and the motion to vacate."

  • Gaetz said a stopgap spending bill to avoid government shutdown would be an "automatic trigger" for a motion to vacate, calling for help from the 20 conservatives who resisted McCarthy's speakership.
  • "It's put up or shut up time not just for McCarthy but for the 20 because if we aren't serious about bringing him into compliance with the deal, then we were never really serious about the deal in the first place," he said.
  • A motion to vacate triggers a vote that requires a majority of the House to remove the speaker. This effort could require as much as 200 Democrats to side with Gaetz, which is far from certain.

Gaetz cited a lack of votes on term limits and balanced budgets — and called out the lack of full release of Jan. 6 tapes and argued the investigations into the Biden family have fallen short.

  • He also accused McCarthy of using "budgetary gimmicks" to achieve lower spending levels.
  • "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," he said.

The speech started shortly after McCarthy announced an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, which Gaetz called a "baby step" following "weeks of pressure from conservatives."

  • On Monday, McCarthy dismissed earlier threats by Gaetz, saying he was "not at all" worried about losing his gavel.
  • McCarthy dismissed Gaetz again on Tuesday: "The one thing I make very clear, he can threaten all he wants, I will not inject the speaker into the independent ethics committee to influence in any way at all," McCarthy said.

The big picture: McCarthy is being forced to navigate his most difficult hurdles yet as Congress looks to avert a government shutdown, with some members becoming more vocal about a potential leadership ouster.

  • But Gaetz is not alone in talk of a motion to vacate, with some conservatives floating the possibility if a bill on border security is not connected to a stopgap.
Go deeper