House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
In a high-stakes showdown within the Republican Party, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, a staunch loyalist of former President Donald Trump and a hard-right lawmaker, has initiated a bid to remove House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his position.
The move marks a significant escalation of tensions within the GOP as it grapples with fervent Trump supporters.
Matt Gaetz introduced a resolution from the House floor, setting in motion a swift vote that is expected to occur in the coming days. Gaetz's action reflects his determination to challenge McCarthy's leadership.
Speaking to reporters outside the Capitol, Gaetz stated, "I have enough Republicans where at this point next week, one of two things will happen: Kevin McCarthy won’t be the speaker of the House or he’ll be the speaker of the House working at the pleasure of the Democrats."
The conflict between Gaetz and McCarthy has been brewing for months, primarily stemming from McCarthy's role in brokering a last-minute agreement with Democrats to secure the passage of a temporary spending bill.
Despite resistance from a group of staunch conservative Republicans, McCarthy's deal prevented a government shutdown. The faction led by Gaetz and others had consistently blocked various legislations.
It's important to note that Republicans hold a slim majority in the chamber, with a 221-212 split.
While some GOP members who share Gaetz's fiscal priorities have voiced their disagreement with his move to oust the speaker, others are more receptive to the idea.
Matt Gaetz had long hinted at employing a rare and powerful procedural tool called a "motion to vacate" to remove Kevin McCarthy from his role.
This procedural move, classified as a privileged resolution, holds a priority status over other legislative actions. The next step is for House leaders to schedule a vote on the resolution within two legislative days.
To remove McCarthy from his position as House speaker, a simple majority of the House is required, which amounts to 218 votes when there are no vacant seats.
However, various procedural motions from members of both parties could potentially slow down or halt the removal process.
Notably, no Speaker of the House in the United States has ever been removed from this crucial position, which is second in the presidential line of succession, following the Vice President.