Matt Gaetz has proposed a motion to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the top House leadership post, a rare procedural move that can force a vote to remove the speaker. This move represents the most serious threat to McCarthy’s speakership to date, as a floor vote to oust McCarthy would require a majority to succeed. The move marks a major escalation in tensions for the House GOP conference, which has been mired in in-fighting and could be thrown into chaos if McCarthy is pushed out of the speakership. No House speaker has ever been ousted through the passage of a resolution to remove them, but threats over the use of a “motion to vacate” can be a powerful way to apply pressure to a speaker. Gaetz has several procedural options at his disposal, including the “motion to table,” referring the resolution to committee, or raising a question of consideration. If the procedural motions fail, the House will have to vote on whether to oust McCarthy as speaker.
Republican Gaetz has stated that he has enough GOP support to overthrow McCarthy, unless Democrats vote to save him. Four other Republicans, including Reps. Tim Burchett, Eli Crane, Andy Biggs, and Bob Good, have expressed support for the motion. However, it remains uncertain whether Democrats will help McCarthy maintain his post. Gaetz’s removal would only require a simple majority vote from a select few Republicans to join the opposition.
McCarthy could retain his gavel if enough Democrats support him, skip the vote, or vote “present,” lowering the majority threshold and making it easier to defeat Gaetz’s motion. Some Democrats may punish McCarthy for working across the aisle, while others see no reason to bail him out.