Rep. Matt Gaetz files ‘motion to vacate’ against Speaker Kevin McCarthy

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz followed through on his threat to file a motion to vacate against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday.

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It is the first time since 1910 that a formal resolution has been officially filed to remove a speaker. A vote to remove McCarthy could come within the next 48 hours, The Washington Post reported. Under House rules, McCarthy and his leadership team must address the motion within two legislative days, The New York Times reported.

To oust a speaker, a majority vote on the resolution would be needed.

“It is going to be difficult for my Republican friends to keep calling President Biden feeble while he continues to take Speaker McCarthy’s lunch money,” said Gaetz, R-Fla. “Members of the Republican Party might vote differently on a motion to vacate if they heard what the speaker had to share with us about his secret side deal with Joe Biden on Ukraine. I’ll be listening. Stay tuned.”

If successful, the motion would not remove McCarthy from the House, but only from his leadership post, according to the newspaper. If Gaetz’s move to oust McCarthy is successful, there could be a speakership battle that could last for days, the Post reported.

That could delay the passage of appropriation bills that Congress wants to pass before the stopgap government funding expires on Nov. 17.

Gaetz would most likely need support from Democrats to remove McCarthy from his position, according to The Associated Press.

“One thing I’m at peace with is when we stand here a week from now, I won’t own Kevin McCarthy anymore,” Gaetz told reporters. “He won’t belong to me. If the Democrats want to adopt him, they can adopt him.”

It has been 113 years since a formal motion to vacate was filed. In March 2010, then-Speaker Joe Cannon created the “motion to vacate” and forced the House to take a vote, the Post reported.

Cannon, known as “Uncle Joe” and the “Czar” of the House, saw his power diminished but held on to the Speaker’s chair by a comfortable 40-vote margin. Still, a subhead under the main headline in The New York Times on March 20, 1910, read, “Great Disorder in the House.”

Gaetz said on Sunday that he would move to oust McCarthy, R-Calif., from the Speaker’s post after a stopgap measure was passed on Saturday -- with Democratic support -- to fund the government for the next 45 days, according to the newspaper.

That prevented the 22nd government shutdown or funding gap since 1976, but Gaetz was unhappy with McCarthy seeking help from the Democrats.

“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 said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that he planned to make a motion to vacate the chair this week.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol after filing the motion, Gaetz said he planned to continue forcing votes to replace McCarthy if this attempt is unsuccessful, according to the Times.

“It took Speaker McCarthy 15 votes to become the speaker,” Gaetz said. “Until I get to 14 or 15, I don’t think I’m being any more dilatory.”

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