‘Bring it on’: McCarthy faces battle for role as Speaker
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy now faces a battle for his leadership role after a disgruntled House Republican filed a motion to vacate McCarthy’s role.
“Bring it on,” McCarthy wrote on X late Monday, formerly known as Twitter, after the motion was filed.
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who filed the motion, shared that message on his own page with a response:
“Just did,” he wrote.
McCarthy fired another shot Tuesday morning.
“I kept government open so the families of our troops and border agents could get paid,” McCarthy said. “If a handful of Republicans side with Democrats to remove me for that – it’s a fight worth having.”
Gaetz, who warned over the weekend he would file the motion, has already begun rallying support among Republicans.
“Some of my wonderful conservative friends won’t be voting to [vacate McCarthy],” Gaetz said. “They worry it might disrupt legislative business. I would remind them that the full scope of legislative work on the floor yesterday was…… renaming 2 Post Offices.”
McCarthy was narrowly elected as speaker after more than a dozen votes over several days as a handful of Republicans held out. McCarthy eventually got the position by giving concessions, one of which was that a single disgruntled member could file a motion to remove McCarthy.
Gaetz, who has taken McCarthy up on that concession, also raised concerns on the House floor Monday about an alleged backroom Ukraine deal that McCarthy made with President Joe Biden.
“I rise to raise a question,” Gaetz said from the House floor Monday. “What was the secret side deal on Ukraine? House Democrats and President Biden have said that as Speaker McCarthy was asking Republicans to vote for a Continuing Resolution to take up the plus-up Ukraine money, that the Speaker of the House was actually cutting a side deal to bring Ukraine legislation to this floor with President Biden and House Democrats.”
“There may be other votes coming today or later this week that could be implicated by the answers to these questions,” Gaetz continued.
Gaetz and other Republicans have pressed for no longer passing Continuing Resolutions and instead returning to the normal order of passing a true budget via 12 separate appropriations bills. That process allows for more involvement from lawmakers across committees instead of deals struck by leadership. It also takes much longer and can get bogged down in squabbling over details.
McCarthy says conservative Republicans have delayed the appropriations process so that Congress did not meet the shutdown deadline. Several of those appropriations bills have already passed in the House, though not all.
More funding for the Ukraine war, which was left out of the latest funding measure, has become a major sticking point as Republicans are increasingly less willing to send those dollars overseas.
Now, Republicans will be pressured to pick sides between McCarthy and Gaetz, a divisive member facing his own House ethics investigation. As of Tuesday morning, the public taking of sides had already begun.
“Tested and proven. That has been the theme of our House Republican Majority under [Speaker McCarthy’s] leadership,” House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., wrote on X. “I’m proud to support the Speaker as we continue championing conservative priorities that will put our country on a better path.”
While Republicans will be focused on the battle over the speakership, they only have a few weeks to fund the government once again or face a shutdown.
The risk of a shutdown is what brought this battle to a head. As The Center Square previously reported, McCarthy put forward a Continuing Resolution last Friday that lowered spending, bolstered the border and kept the government open for another 30 days. However, a group of 21 House Republicans voted against the measure, effectively killing it since no Democrats would support the spending cuts and border policies.
That failure left little hope for a deal before the government shut down at midnight the next day. But McCarthy struck a bipartisan deal that passed Saturday, keeping the government open until mid-November.
Now, House Republicans have a divided party with just weeks to fund the government again.