McCarthy vows to survive ouster threat for avoiding shutdown

October 2, 2023 3:02 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Top U.S. House Republican Kevin McCarthy said he expected to survive a threat to his speakership after a hardline critic within his party called for his ouster following the passage of a stopgap government funding bill that drew more support from Democrats than Republicans.

Hardline Republican Representative Matt Gaetz told multiple U.S. media outlets he would file a “motion to vacate,” a call for a vote to remove McCarthy as speaker, testing McCarthy’s support in the House of Representatives, which his party controls by a narrow 221-212 margin.

“I’ll survive,” McCarthy said on CBS. “This is personal with Gaetz.”

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Gaetz is one of a group of about two dozen hardliners who forced McCarthy to endure a withering 15 rounds of voting in January before he was elected speaker, during which they squeezed out concessions, including a rule change to allow any one House member to call for a vote to oust the speaker.

It was not clear how much support McCarthy would have in such a vote, or whether any Democrats would back him. McCarthy angered Democrats last month by launching an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden.

“If at this time next week Kevin McCarthy is still speaker of the House, it will be because Democrats bailed him out,” Gaetz said in an interview on ABC. “I am relentless and I will continue to pursue this objective.”

McCarthy stunned Washington on Saturday when he backed a bill to fund the government through Nov. 17, averting a partial shutdown but not imposing any of the spending cuts or changes to border security that his hardline colleagues had called for.

The bill, which was approved by the Senate on a broad bipartisan basis and signed into law by Biden, is meant to give lawmakers more time to agree on a deal to fund the government through Sept. 30, 2024.

An ouster of the speaker would complicate that process.

“It is destructive to the country to put forth this motion to vacate,” Representative Mike Lawler, a Republican, said on ABC. “By putting this motion to vacate on the floor, you know what Matt Gaetz is going to do? He is going to delay the ability to complete that work over the next 45 days.”

Gaetz had been threatening to move against McCarthy for weeks.

Republican Representative Byron Donalds, a member of the hardline House Freedom Caucus who had been nominated to challenge McCarthy for speaker in January, declined to say how he would vote.

“I don’t know right now,” Donalds said in an interview on Fox. “I gotta really think about that because there’s a lot of stuff going on.”