July 22, 2024

Rep. Matt Gaetz Monday vowed he would push to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, but not just yet.

The right-wing firebrand of Florida accused McCarthy of cutting a “secret deal” with Democrats to pass aid for embattled Ukraine and demanded answers from GOP leadership.

“I’ll be listening,” Gaetz said. “Stay tuned.”

Gaetz said he would introduce a so-called motion to vacate sometime later “this week,” noting that many lawmakers were still en route back to Washington, D.C. after the weekend.

The youthful lawmaker said McCarthy would “probably” manage to stay in power but cutting backroom deals.

He also teased reporters that he had spoken with former President Donald Trump about his anti-McCarthy push, but declined to reveal what the MAGA leader told him.

In a speech on the House floor, Gaetz demanded McCarthy disclose the details of a supposed deal he cut with congressional Democrats and President Biden to allow votes on aid to Ukraine, which was left out of an 11th hour stopgap funding bill that averted a government shutdown.

“It is becoming increasingly clear who the speaker of the House already works for and it’s not the (Republicans),” Gaetz said.

Gaetz has been leading an on-and-off revolt against McCarthy for months as the Republican leader seeks to keep the fractious GOP caucus together.

The battle lines became much clearer after McCarthy turned to Democrats to help him pass the stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown, turning his back on right-wing hardliners who were unwilling to compromise on demands for deep spending cuts and other conservative priorities.

Gaetz is using leverage he won from McCarthy during the marathon 15-vote ordeal in January that ended with the California lawmaker winning the speaker’s gavel.

One of the key terms McCarthy agreed to was that any one lawmaker can force a so-called “motion to vacate” that would force the speaker to win a majority vote.

With Republicans commanding only a narrow nine-vote margin in the House, it would theoretically take only five GOP lawmakers to put McCarthy in grave danger of being ousted.

The speaker could seek the support of Democrats to stay in power, but that could anger an even larger group of Republicans.

No speaker has ever been removed from office through a motion to vacate, mostly because lawmakers from both parties usually see it in their interest to keep control of the body, even if they disagree with a speaker from their own party.

Gaetz argues that McCarthy should only pursue policies that command support of the majority of the 221 Republicans in the House, abiding by the unwritten “Hastert Rule” named after former Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Aid to Ukraine and other policies like the spending bill may attract less than half the GOP votes but can pass the overall House by a wide margin due to near unanimous support from Democrats.

At least three first-term lawmakers from New York City metro area are among that group and they cheered the move to avert the government shutdown with a last-minute compromise.

Rep. Mike Lawler, a Republican whose Westchester County-based district voted strongly for Biden, said Gaetz was guilty of “delusional thinking.”

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