The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, plans to vote in the coming hours on the motion of his far-right wing to strip him of his position and insists that he will not seek an agreement with the Democrats to keep him, setting the stage for an unprecedented confrontation with unpredictable results in the chamber.
McCarthy’s fate looks extremely uncertain as he faces what is called a “motion to vacate” from Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a vocal critic. The support of just a handful of Republicans will be enough to remove McCarthy from the presidential platform if the Democrats vote in favor with the rebellious right.
The vote to put the eventual expulsion on the table is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. local time (5:30 p.m. GMT).
“Let’s get this over with,” McCarthy told his fellow believers in a closed-door meeting, according to a Republican who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.
It’s a daunting moment for McCarthy, the most serious punishment he has suffered yet, prompted by his decision over the weekend to work with Democrats to keep the government running. So far, several Republicans on the hard-right have declared their willingness to unseat McCarthy, who has faced strong opposition since his election as president in January.
At the Capitol, both Republicans and Democrats met behind closed doors ahead of what would be a historic vote in the afternoon.
“(Democrats) haven’t asked for anything,” McCarthy said for CNBC before the meeting. “I’m not going to give anything.”
McCarthy received three standing ovations during the meeting, the Republican said.
When McCarthy supporters were asked to raise their hands, it was an “overwhelming” majority, said Rep. Ralph Norman.
Gaetz attended, but did not speak. On the other side of the Capitol, Democrats agreed on one point: McCarthy cannot be trusted. But they have not revealed what his strategy will be when it comes to voting.
Since the midterm elections last November, the conservatives have 221 seats in that chamber and the Democrats 212. The leader of the Democratic minority, Hakeem Jeffriesrecommended this Tuesday to the members of his party that they vote in favor of firing him.
“Every time there is an obstacle I see it as a challenge,” said McCarthy on Tuesday, whose vote to become leader of that chamber (Speaker) in January required 15 attempts, in the face of repeated blockages from the most ultra group.
Activating the motion of censure only requires that it be promoted by a legislator, whether Democrat or Republican, and that this vote reaches a simple majority. It is an unusual procedure that has been used twice in the last century, both without success: against fellow Republicans Joseph Cannon in 1910 and John Boehner in 2015.
On that last occasion it was not put to a vote, but its presentation is considered a trigger for Boehner to resign months later.
The rules of the House of Representatives establish that it is the president of the House who must draw up a list of his possible substitutes in case his position is declared vacant.
This list would be made public only if this situation were met, and the chosen person would act on an interim basis until the new leader is elected. For now, The mere presentation of the motion against McCarthy deepens the open division among moderate Republicans and ultras and predicts an unbreathable political climate in Congress between now and the presidential elections in November 2024.
(With information from EFE and AP)