July 15, 2024

After this week’s bit of drama involving Congress flirting with a government shutdown, it does not appear that things will be slowing down – at least where Republican Party infighting is concerned.

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Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida went on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper and announced he would be doing what most have expected he was going to do: Push to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership role.

Tapper brought up the fact that Gaetz vowed to file a motion to vacate if McCarthy worked with Democrats to pass a clean continuing resolution, which is exactly what happened in the 11th-hour drama on Saturday. Gaetz confirmed to Tapper that he was going to follow through when the House gavels back into session Monday at noon.

“I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week,” he said. “I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.”

Gaetz has not offered a potential replacement for McCarthy, and there has been no confirmation that anyone else is actively seeking the job. That does not seem to be stopping his resolve, however, as he accused McCarthy of lying to both Democrats and Republicans since he took the job.

“Look, the one thing everybody has in common is that nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy. He lied to Biden, he lied to House conservatives,” Gaetz told Tapper. “He had appropriators marking to a different number altogether. And the reason we were backed up against the shutdown politics is not a bug of the system. It’s a feature.”

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But the problem for the Florida Republican, who is reportedly planning a run for Florida governor in the future, is that there seems to be very little appetite among his colleagues to have the fight. According to POLITICO, Gaetz has approached various Democrats for support.

While liberals have never been expected to bail out McCarthy, Gaetz’s maneuvering is the latest sign that he is serious about his efforts to try to oust the speaker in the coming days. His conversations with Democrats were confirmed by three people familiar with the discussions.

During their conversation, Jayapal told Gaetz that progressives would not support McCarthy — a position that her group had discussed privately earlier this week. Jayapal also urged Gaetz to defer his ouster bid until after the looming shutdown, which is expected to begin at midnight Sunday.

“He’s been talking to everybody about it,” Jayapal told POLITICO. “I told him in our caucus, in the Progressive Caucus, we’re not planning to save McCarthy — for a whole host of reasons. And so, we really need to get through the shutdown first.”

He also reportedly approached Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, and Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas).

But getting rid of McCarthy is only part of the equation. The other part is finding a replacement that suits all sides. Republicans have had discussions on who those people may be, as my colleague Jeff Charles took note of on Saturday. Those names include Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), House Budget Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), House Rules Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.), House Financial Services Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), according to reporting.

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Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was considered an alternative to McCarthy in the original leadership fight, but Scalise recently announced that he was diagnosed with cancer and he is focusing on his treatment. 

But the biggest problem, according to some sources who spoke to me over the weekend, is that no one seems to want the job. The people who could be a good leader in the House don’t want the job, and the people who do want the job are not necessarily people the House could ever agree on to become the Speaker.

It may yet turn into another performative act for some anti-McCarthy forces in the House.

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