The House on Tuesday moved closer to a vote on whether House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) should keep his gavel after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), 10 other House Republicans, and a unified Democratic Caucus defeated an effort to kill the “motion to vacate.”
The chamber voted 208-218 on a motion to table Gaetz’s resolution to oust McCarthy, setting the stage for a vote on whether McCarthy should remain in the top spot.
The vote is bad news for McCarthy, who had argued that it would be bad for the institution of the House for Democrats to help in removing him.
And it came only after Democrats decided against protecting McCarthy. Emerging from a closed-door meeting in the Capitol, members of the caucus said they would vote to oust McCarthy — dealing a blow to McCarthy and putting his Speakership in hot water.
It sets the chamber up for yet another historic vote that, like McCarthy’s history 15-ballot Speaker’s election in January, has not been seen in a century.
The only other time the House voted on whether to remove a sitting Speaker was in 1910, when Speaker Joe Cannon prevailed and kept his gavel. The only other “motion to vacate” attempt was in 2015, when then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) made a move to oust Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — but it was referred to committee and never received a vote.
Gaetz, who has sparred with McCarthy in the past, moved to force a vote on ousting the California Republican as Speaker on Monday night, following through with a vow he made over the weekend.
The decision, which Gaetz had been threatening for weeks, came days after McCarthy put a “clean” continuing resolution on the floor to avert a government shutdown — something the Florida Republican was staunchly opposed to. He also accused McCarthy of cutting a “secret side deal” with President Biden on future funding for Ukraine — which the Speaker denied.
McCarthy has projected confidence amid Gaetz’s campaign to oust him, telling reporters Tuesday morning “I’m confident I’ll hold on.” He did, however, recognize the risk he faces in the slim House GOP majority.
“If five Republicans go with Democrats, then I’m out,” he said. When a reporter said that prospect looks likely, he responded “probably so.”