House to vote on motion to vacate McCarthy from Speakership

October 3, 2023

The House was scheduled Tuesday afternoon to vote on a motion to vacate Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from his leadership position.

The vote was set after far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Monday evening made good on a threat to file a motion to vacate McCarthy from the Speakership, hours after he had accused McCarthy of having struck a “secret side deal” with President Biden and House Democrats to continue to fund Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Gaetz’s motion also came two days after McCarthy had introduced a “clean” 45-day stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded and avoided a shutdown; it passed in the GOP-led House after receiving more votes from Democrats that Republicans.

A motion to vacate is essentially calling for a “no confidence” vote against the House Speaker to have him or her ousted. There’s never been a successful vote to oust a House Speaker in the history of the U.S. Congress. 

However, a concession McCarthy made to far-right House members like Gaetz in January to secure the Speakership allows just one Representative—in this case, Gaetz—to make a motion to vacate the chair. Before McCarthy, a motion to vacate required a majority vote from members of the Speaker’s party.

According to House precedent, a resolution to remove the Speaker would be considered privileged, a designation that gives it priority over other issues, though it could potentially be preempted by a motion to “table,” or kill, the resolution that would be voted on first. Such a vote to table would only require a simple majority to proceed.

Further, while McCarthy still appears to maintain the support of most of the 221 House Republicans, the GOP only holds a four-seat majority in the House. A handful of Republicans could successfully vote to vacate the Speakership if all 212 Democrats vote to defeat any blocking motions, and then subsequently vote in favor of the resolution to vacate.

McCarthy on Tuesday morning said, “personally, I’m not” expecting Democrats to back him up, though he conceded that “if five Republicans go with Democrats, then I’m out.”

According to reports, there are at least five conservative Republicans, including Gaetz, leaning toward voting for McCarthy’s ouster at of Tuesday morning. The others named were Reps. Eli Crane and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, and Tim Burchett of Tennessee.

Earlier Tuesday morning, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said his caucus was planning to meet shortly but that it “remains to be seen” whether House Democrats would help McCarthy save his job.

Following their meeting, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)  said, “We are not voting in any way that would help save Speaker McCarthy.”

PHOTO: McCarthy Tuesday morning

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