WASHINGTON – Republican hardliner Matt Gaetz filed a motion Monday night to remove Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, setting off a dramatic vote on the future of the Republican majority in the House.
Under House rules, the motion must be voted on within two legislative days.
Gaetz said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he would submit a motion to resign against McCarthy. He criticized how McCarthy has handled spending and budget disputes since the GOP took control of the House in January, alleging that McCarthy has broken promises to other conservatives about how he would lead.
“Kevin McCarthy has lied to all of us before,” the Florida lawmaker said.
McCarthy expressed confidence in facing the request, saying on CBS Sunday, “I will survive.” He suggested Gaetz was motivated by a “personal” grudge, which Gaetz denies.
“Let’s get this over with. Let’s start governing,” McCarthy said. “If he’s upset because he tried to force us to shut down and I made sure the government didn’t shut down, then let’s talk about it.”
McCarthy needs a majority of votes to defeat the proposal, but Republicans only have a five-seat majority. It’s unclear whether Gaetz has more than a handful of other members who will support him, but at least one Democrat – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – has said she would vote to remove McCarthy.
No speaker has ever been removed in this way, although such motions have been attempted several times in history.
Shortly after giving a speech on the House floor Monday in which he teased that he would introduce the motion against McCarthy, Gaetz acknowledged to ABC News that he may not have the votes to boot McCarthy from his job , as he spoke to reporters outside the Capitol.
Asked by ABC News senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott whether he would try again if his efforts failed, Gaetz said, “Yes.”
“Well, as I said, Speaker McCarthy needed 15 votes to become speaker. So until I get to 14 or 15, I don’t think I’ll be any more hesitant than him,” he said.
ABC News’ Alexandra Hutzler and Lauren Peller contributed to this report.