Bid by right-wing rebel to oust US house speaker Kevin McCarthy
US speaker of the house Kevin McCarthy has tabled a vote for Tuesday to decide his fate – after fellow Republican Matt Gaetz filed a resolution to oust his from the post.
The far-right representative from Florida has threatened for months to use a procedural tool, called a motion to vacate, in a bid to strip his fellow party member of office.
Those threats escalated over the weekend after Mr McCarthy relied on Democrat support for the votes needed to agree a Bill to fund the government and avoid a federal shutdown.
Mr Gaetz followed through on those threats by filing a resolution on Monday that the position of speaker is vacant. Mr McCarthy said on Tuesday morning that he would hold a vote on the resolution later that day - but insisted he had no intention of giving Democrats concessions in exchange for helping him survive.
In an earlier speech on the House floor, Mr Gaetz demanded the Speaker disclose the details of a supposed deal he had made with the White House to bring forward legislation to help fund the war in Ukraine during funding negotiations.
He said: "It is becoming increasingly clear who the speaker of the House already works for and it's not the Republican Conference."
Brushing off the threat, Mr McCarthy, who was not present on the House floor when Mr Gaetz spoke, said: “I think it’s disruptive to the country and my focus is only on getting our work done.
“I want to win the vote so I can finish the job for the American people. There are certain people who have done this since the day we came in.”
Mr McCarthy said there was "no side deal" on Ukraine, noting he had not spoken to President Joe Biden.
On Monday, Mr Biden pledged there would be no interruption to aid for Ukraine, despite an 11th-hour congressional deal, which averted a government shutdown in the country, but did not include funding for Kyiv.
A motion to vacate is a rare and strong procedural tool that has only been used twice in the past century against Republican speakers.
But in recent years, conservatives have wielded the motion as a potential weapon against their leaders.
Mr McCarthy, hoping to appease some on the hard right like Mr Gaetz as he fought to gain their vote for speaker, agreed in January to give as few as five Republican members the ability to initiate a vote to remove him.
When that was not good enough for his critics, he agreed to reduce that threshold to one – the system that historically has been the norm.
That decision has set Mr McCarthy up for the ultimate test of his leadership as he will now have to rely on Democrats to withhold their support for any effort to force his removal.
Because the motion is a privileged resolution, it has priority over other measures and the next step for House leaders is to schedule a vote within two legislative days.
If procedural motions do not slow or stop the process, it would take a simple majority of the House to remove Mr McCarthy from his post.
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