Rep. Matt Gaetz triggers vote to oust Kevin McCarthy from speaker's office


U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) attends a House Committee on Rules meeting regarding government spending legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 22, 2023.

Elizabeth Frantz | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the Donald Trump ally and conservative bomb-thrower who has been a nagging thorn in leadership’s side, filed a resolution on Monday to force a vote to overthrow his political nemesis, Kevin McCarthy, as speaker of the House.

During the past two weeks, Gaetz had issued a specific warning to McCarthy, saying that he would try to oust the speaker if he brought a short-term government funding bill to the floor that passed with help from Democrats.

True to his word, Gaetz made the motion to vacate on Monday, just three days after McCarthy put a so-called “clean” continuing resolution or CR on the floor to avert a government shutdown, passing it with 209 Democratic votes and 125 Republican votes.

Defiant, McCarthy and his allies have lashed out at Gaetz, accusing the Florida Republican of seeking the limelight and holding a personal vendetta against the speaker. McCarthy and his allies have reacted with a smirk, accusing Gaetz of seeking the limelight and holding a personal vendetta against the speaker. “I’ll survive. Gaetz’s actions come after months of public tussles with McCarthy. He says McCarthy failed to keep promises made to conservatives in January when he was fighting for the speakership to cut spending significantly. Gaetz led a group of conservative rebels who fought McCarthy for the Speaker’s job. It took 15 rounds of voting to finally elect McCarthy. McCarthy’s allies will almost certainly try to delay a vote or thwart it by “tabling”, the motion, and referring to a special committee. But that may not be effective. The Gaetz resolution, “declaring vacant the office of Speaker”, is privileged. It takes precedence over all other House business. House Democrats are now in a difficult position given the GOP’s 221-212 razor-thin majority. Gaetz’s motion has put them in a difficult political situation. Democrats must decide whether they will vote with McCarthy’s opponents to remove him as speaker or with McCarthy’s allies to bail out McCarthy.