Florida Representative Matt Gaetz made a bold move within the halls of Congress when he presented a motion to vacate House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership position. Gaetz’s action was highly anticipated and marked a significant challenge within his own party.
In his address to Congress, Gaetz invoked Rule 2(a)(1) of Rule 9 and formally announced his intent to question the privileges of the House. He then presented a resolution to declare the office of the Speaker of the House vacant, stating, “Resolved that the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives be declared vacant.”
After making his statement, Gaetz left the podium. When questioned by a reporter about concerns regarding the chaos his motion might unleash, Gaetz expressed his dissatisfaction with the 45-day stopgap resolution, omnibus bills, and the diminishing strength of the American petro-dollar. He argued that true chaos lies in the direction in which the current Congress, characterized as a “uniparty,” is taking the nation.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy responded with a succinct “Bring it on.”
Gaetz’s motion to vacate signifies that Democrats will now have to choose whether to support McCarthy to keep him in his position, abstain from voting, or vote against his leadership. Notably, Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal indicated that they were not interested in saving McCarthy’s speakership.
In terms of party support, Gaetz claimed to have sufficient backing from within his own party to force Democrats into making a choice regarding McCarthy’s leadership. He did not, however, specify who might have the votes to become Speaker if McCarthy were to be removed from the position. Currently, New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries serves as the House Minority Leader.
The Wall Street Journal criticized Gaetz’s move, characterizing the rejectionists as those who want to disrupt everything without clear principles or strategies. Gaetz’s ability to bring this motion was made possible by the inclusion of the Jeffersonian Motion in the deal that secured McCarthy’s Speakership back in January, allowing for a single individual to initiate the process of removing McCarthy if he deviates from his word or policy agenda.