Uncertainty clouds the future of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy after Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz attempted to oust the Republican leader, but representatives on both sides of the aisle have more questions before voting on the speakership.
Gaetz, a far-right conservative who has been threatening to push back against McCarthy for weeks, filed a motion to resign from the speakership on Monday. The move comes just two days after the speaker managed to push through a last-minute bipartisan spending bill to avert a government shutdown. However, Republicans like Gaetz have questioned the speaker’s leadership on his efforts to work with Democrats.
McCarthy responded to the request on social media Monday evening, posting on his account on X, formerly Twitter: “Keep going.”
Divided votes among the GOP
Several lawmakers commented on Gaetz’s motion later Monday, including Republican Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee, who told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that as it stands, he supports removing McCarthy from office.
“Really, I see it as two things,” Burchett said. “First, do I vote against my friend Kevin McCarthy or trust my conscience? That’s pretty much who I am.”
“I’m praying for it right now, but if it were now I would vote to oust him,” he added.
Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, a hardliner in the GOP, said he needed more information before voting on the speakership, but added that he didn’t currently believe McCarthy could be “trusted” to lead Republicans. could.
“I want to hear what Kevin has to say,” Buck told MSNBC’s Jen Psaki. “One thing Kevin promised conservatives when he ran for speaker was $1.47 trillion. Then when he negotiated with the president.” [Joe] When Biden agreed on the debt ceiling, he promised President Biden a $1.6 trillion deal.”
“He can’t be trusted,” Buck added. “And I want to understand why he behaves this way before I make a final decision.”
However, a flood of Republicans came to McCarthy’s defense, including Rep. James Comer, who told Newsmax on Monday that he planned to vote against the speaker’s removal. Congressman Mike Lawler also used his interview on CNN to attack Gaetz’s decision, calling the Florida representative a “petulant child.”
“I think he’s a petulant child, and I think he proved that tonight by submitting his resignation request against the rules of the Republican majority conference,” Lawler told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“I think it speaks volumes about who Matt is, his character and the fact that he doesn’t care about the American people, he doesn’t care about governing,” Lawler continued. “He’s all about getting attention and notoriety.”
Several other Republican House members, including Congressmen Nick Langworthy of New York, Adrian Smith of Nebraska and Laurel Lee of Florida, took to social media to show their support for the speaker.
“I am an absolute NO to the resignation motion,” said Iowa Representative Ashley Hinson wrote on their X account. “Matt Gaetz’s stellar supporting performance is a disgrace – and why so many Iowans are so frustrated with politics in Washington. We must work for the American people and not play political games for Gaetz’s personal gain.”
How Democrats could play a role
McCarthy agreed that a single member of the House of Representatives could seek recall at any time as part of negotiations to secure his speakership in January. At the time, Gaetz was one of the leading voices of Republicans voting against McCarthy.
If the proposal comes to a vote, only a simple majority will be needed to oust McCarthy, meaning only five Republicans would have to join with all of their Democratic colleagues to agree to remove the speaker. However, there is a possibility that some Democrats could choose to reject Gaetz’s measure.
Rep. Dan Goldman, a Democrat from New York, told MSNBC that he currently sees “no reason” to save McCarthy, later adding that he expects the speaker will need to win over at least some Democrats to do so to keep his position.
“The real question right now is what is he doing?” Goldman said. “Because when you play through that, it gets a little more complicated. If he’s relying on the Democrats because he’s making a deal with the Democrats in some way, then maybe that could now clarify his role as speaker.”
“But he still has to legislate for another year,” Goldman continued. “Any time a rule is passed, he’s going to need Democrats to pass a rule. So he then has to enter into some kind of coalition government.”
Newsweek asked McCarthy’s office for comment via email Monday evening.