In a recent development, Rep. Matt Gaetz revealed that he has been in discussions with former President Donald Trump regarding his intentions to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his position. The tension between McCarthy and Gaetz, a Republican representative from Florida, escalated when Gaetz announced his plans to initiate a motion to “vacate” the speakership.
This motion could lead to a vote this week that might remove McCarthy from his role as the Speaker of the House. McCarthy, in response, accused Gaetz of attempting to gain Democratic support by promising them a power-sharing deal, which would grant them the authority to issue their own subpoenas. McCarthy, during an appearance on Fox News, stated, “Matt has been going to Democrats and offering them subpoena power, which will just destroy any Biden impeachment inquiry.” McCarthy said that it’s not good for the House and is not in the nation’s best interest.
In a counter-move, Gaetz accused McCarthy of attempting to strike a covert agreement with the Democrats. This alleged deal involved voting on legislation to fund U.S. support for Ukraine’s conflict with Russia in return for Democratic backing on a stopgap bill, which successfully prevented a government shutdown on Sunday. McCarthy, however, refuted these claims, clarifying that while he did discuss Ukraine funding within the context of the stopgap bill, no future funding deals were made.
“It is going to be difficult for my Republican friends to keep calling President Biden feeble while he continues to take Speaker McCarthy’s lunch money and every negotiation,” Mr. Gaetz said.
The Speaker has been on unsteady ground since the start of this Congress, when Republicans gained control of the House by a slim majority. After 15 rounds of voting and many concessions, McCarthy finally secured the chair. One of the concessions made during this process was the allowance for a single lawmaker to initiate a motion to vacate the chair, which would trigger a vote on the Speaker’s fate.
The level of support Gaetz has garnered remains uncertain, with some prominent Republicans, such as Rep. Thomas Massie, expressing their reservations. Massie voiced concerns that such a move would weaken the conservative stance in Congress, especially during ongoing budget negotiations.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene also expressed her opposition to the idea of removing McCarthy, emphasizing that it would only strengthen the Democrats’ position. She further criticized any potential efforts to expel Gaetz based on negative findings from an Ethics Committee report.
Gaetz’s decision to challenge McCarthy’s leadership was reportedly influenced by the latter’s move to prevent a government shutdown using a stopgap spending bill. This bill, which maintained the current funding levels for 45 days, did not incorporate the new restrictions that the GOP had hoped for.
While Gaetz has remained silent on any potential replacements for McCarthy, the current Speaker remains confident of his position, attributing the conflict to personal differences with Gaetz.
Adding to the intrigue, Gaetz, who has been actively fundraising for his campaign against McCarthy, confirmed that he has consulted with Trump regarding his efforts. Despite Trump’s significant influence within the GOP, he has refrained from taking a public stance on the matter.
The Democrats now face a strategic decision on how to navigate the upcoming vote. They could potentially use this opportunity to further deepen the divisions within the GOP or leverage the situation to negotiate concessions from McCarthy.