On Sunday, Representative Matt Gaetz, a staunch conservative from Florida, announced his intention to challenge House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican from California, for his leadership position this week.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gaetz revealed his plan to file a motion to remove McCarthy from his role, a move he believes is necessary to usher in new, trustworthy leadership. Gaetz emphasized the need to address the situation decisively, comparing it to ripping off a Band-Aid.
This development marks a significant escalation in the animosity among House conservatives toward McCarthy. Gaetz’s decision comes in the wake of McCarthy’s reliance on Democratic support to pass a short-term spending measure, commonly known as a continuing resolution, to prevent a government shutdown on Saturday.
Gaetz had previously warned of his intention to file a motion to remove McCarthy if he collaborated with Democrats on a continuing resolution instead of pursuing the 12 individual appropriation bills required for long-term government funding, even if it risked a shutdown.
“We must transition to single-subject spending bills,” Gaetz asserted. “This is why we are pursuing a motion to vacate, as we need a system where the House and Senate can negotiate over each government agency independently.”
In response to Gaetz’s threat to challenge his speakership, McCarthy appeared unfazed and even welcomed the challenge during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“This is nothing new. He’s been trying to do this since I entered office,” McCarthy remarked. “I will prevail. This is a personal matter for Matt.”
McCarthy accused Gaetz of being disinterested in effective governance and criticized him for voting against a GOP short-term measure, which was more conservative than the spending deal that ultimately passed on Saturday. The GOP-backed version failed in the House due to opposition from Gaetz and other hardline conservative lawmakers.
“Matt voted against the most conservative option to secure our border,” McCarthy stated. “He seems more focused on securing TV appearances than accomplishing tangible results. He was willing to risk a government shutdown, even if it meant his own constituents, including military personnel, wouldn’t be paid, just to pursue this motion.”
McCarthy concluded, “If he’s upset because he wanted to force a shutdown and I ensured that it didn’t happen, then let’s have that debate. Let’s move forward and focus on effective governance.”
The House Republicans have recently been embroiled in internal conflicts, with moderate GOP members clashing with a small group of hardline conservatives who insist on substantial spending cuts, even though such measures have no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.