By David Morgan and Makini Brice WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Embattled U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday teed up a vote on a challenge to his leadership by a fellow Republican, in an intra-party dispute that could plunge Congress into chaos. McCarthy said the House of Representatives will vote later in the day on a […]
US House to vote Tuesday on challenge to McCarthy’s leadership
By David Morgan and Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Embattled U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday teed up a vote on a challenge to his leadership by a fellow Republican, in an intra-party dispute that could plunge Congress into chaos.
McCarthy said the House of Representatives will vote later in the day on a motion by Representative Matt Gaetz, a McCarthy antagonist, that could potentially remove him from his post.
If successful, it would be the first time in U.S. history that House lawmakers voted their leader out.
“I’m confident I’ll hold on,” McCarthy told reporters.
The leadership fight comes just days after Republican infighting took Washington to the brink of a partial government shutdown.
Several Republicans said they were sticking with McCarthy as they emerged from a closed-door meeting in which they said he received multiple standing ovations.
“I don’t think there’s any question that there’s only one person prepared to lead our party. That’s understood by over 95% of the members,” said Republican Representative Darrell Issa.
Gaetz did not speak to reporters after the meeting.
McCarthy’s party controls the chamber by a narrow 221-212 majority, and it would take as few as five Republican defections to threaten his hold on power if all Democrats vote against him.
Democrats have not said whether they will vote against McCarthy or extract concessions to keep him in power. Many say they view him as untrustworthy after he broke an agreement on spending with Democratic President Joe Biden, and are angered by his decision to green-light an impeachment investigation of the president.
“I’m interested in hearing what every single member of the House Democratic family has to say on this issue. And then we’ll come to a collective decision at the end,” House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries told MSNBC.
Jeffries said he had spoken with McCarthy on Monday night, but declined to say what was discussed.
McCarthy said he did not expect Democratic support.
Republicans said the House would take up Gaetz’s motion early Tuesday afternoon. The chamber could hold a straight up or down vote, or could hold a vote to sideline it. If McCarthy hangs on to his job, Gaetz could potentially push for another vote.
Gaetz and other far-right Republicans are angered that McCarthy relied on Democratic votes to pass a temporary funding extension on Saturday that headed off a partial government shutdown. A faction of about 20 Republicans, Gaetz included, had forced McCarthy’s hand by repeatedly blocking other legislation.
“It seems very personal with Matt. It doesn’t look like he’s looking out for the country or the institution,” McCarthy said.
Gaetz allies said they were upset that they were frustrated by the slow pace of spending legislation on McCarthy’s watch.
“We took a whole month of August off. I think that that’s pretty telling,” said Republican Representative Tim Burchett, who said he would vote to oust McCarthy.
Gaetz was one of more than a dozen Republicans who repeatedly voted against McCarthy’s bid for speaker in January. McCarthy ultimately secured the gavel after 15 rounds of voting.
Other Republicans said they should focus on legislating, rather than infighting.
“This country does not need more drama,” said Republican Representative Steve Womack.
(This story has been refiled to add full name and title of Republican Hern in paragraph 10)
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavy and Doina Chiacu; editing by Andy Sullivan, Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell)