McCarthy’s speakership in peril after House passes stopgap funding bill: ‘Go ahead and try’

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz threatened again to boot House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from his post on Saturday amid chaotic spending negotiations and a vote in the House on a short-term spending bill aimed at avoiding a government shutdown.

The House passed a continuing resolution (CR) Saturday that funds the government at current levels until mid-November. Every Democrat voted for the measure but one, and 90 Republicans voted against the stopgap spending measure.

Gaetz, who said before the vote that he was against the resolution, has been threatening to force a House-wide vote on whether to remove McCarthy from the speakership over alleged violations of a deal he struck with critics to win the speaker’s gavel in January.

Under confirmed terms of that compromise, McCarthy agreed to allow any lawmaker to trigger a vote on his removal, known as a motion to vacate.

‘The one thing everyone seems to have in common is no one trusts Kevin McCarthy,’ Gaetz told reporters outside the Capitol on Saturday. ‘I’ve said that whether or not Kevin McCarthy faces a motion to vacate is entirely within his control, because all he had to do was comply with the agreement that he made with us in January. And putting this bill on the floor and passing it with Democrats would be such an obvious, blatant and clear violation of that – we would have to deal with it.’

‘Right now, my focus is not on the motion to vacate. My focus is on averting a shutdown by passing these bills. And if we do have a shutdown, which may be the case, I certainly want it to be as short and painless as possible,’ he added.

Earlier on Saturday, McCarthy was asked whether he was concerned about potentially losing his job over bringing the bill to the House floor for a vote.

‘I never fear of that. But if I lose my job over looking out for the American public, for taking a stand for our troops and our border agents, then I’m not quite sure what people want. Because this allows us the time to get the job done. But why should they be punished because the Senate did nothing? I mean, seriously, think about that question. If somebody wants to remove me from putting Americans first, then so be it.’

The funding patch brought to the floor over the weekend by McCarthy would last for 45 days past the end of the fiscal year, which concludes at midnight Sunday, October 1. The bill would also include $16 billion for U.S. disaster relief aid that President Biden requested over the summer, McCarthy said on Saturday. 

The bill would also be a ‘clean’ extension of the current year’s funding priorities, which were set by the Democrat-held Congress last year.

It comes after House Republicans tried and failed to pass a stopgap funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), filled with conservative policy items like border security and spending cuts.

The bill is being expedited past normal processes, and will need two-thirds of the House for approval — meaning Democrats will have to vote in favor of the plan for it to pass.

Republicans’ previous CR proposals did not get any Democratic support, and it failed after enough GOP hardliners opposed them. Holdouts argued that a CR on principle is an extension of the previous Democrat-held Congress’ priorities, and is the antithesis of the House GOP majority’s promise to pass 12 individual spending bills laying out conservative priorities in the next fiscal year.

Gaetz stopped short of calling for a motion to vacate in remarks on the House floor Tuesday. 

‘[T]he House of Representatives has been poorly led. We own that, and we have to do something about it. My Democrat colleagues will have an opportunity to do something about that, too, and we will see if they bail out our failed speaker,’ he said at the time.

McCarthy responded to the threats to his speakership ahead of the vote on the measure Saturday.

‘If someone wants to remove because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,’ McCarthy told reporters.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind and Houston Keene contributed to this report.

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