'Bring it on:’ McCarthy stares down Gaetz bid to oust him, accuses rival of enlisting Democrats

McCarthy says Gaetz has been reaching out to Democrats to whip up 218 votes to remove him as speaker but Gaetz says he doesn't need to cut a deal with them.

Published: October 1, 2023 11:05pm

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is staring down an effort from conservative Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to oust him from his position, challenging him to "bring it on."

Gaetz and other conservatives in the House are frustrated with McCarthy for not doing enough to reduce federal spending and instead putting a clean 45-day temporary funding bill on the floor to avoid a government shutdown on Saturday.

The Democrat-led Senate followed suit and passed the bill. President Biden quickly signed it. 

A group of House conservatives wanted to see 12 "single subject" appropriations bills passed, resulting in about $120 billion in spending cuts, rather than passing a temporary "continuing resolution" to keep the government funded at current levels. 

Gaetz told CNN he plans to introduce the motion to vacate the speakership this week. 

McCarthy made prior attempts to move forward with other spending bills that included budget cuts, but those efforts failed to garner enough support.

On Friday, 21 conservative Republicans and Democrats voted against the Spending Reduction and Border Security Act, which reduced domestic spending for 30 days and included more funding for border security measures to help Border Patrol handle the influx of migrants attempting to enter into the U.S. 

To gain the speakership, McCarthy agreed to a series of rules that conservative holdouts were pushing for, including allowing any single House member to introduce a motion to vacate.

McCarthy accused Gaetz of reaching out to Democrats to whip up 218 votes to remove him as speaker.

"Gaetz is trying to work with Democrats. He's reached out to Swalwell, to AOC and others. But if that's the way we're going to govern, I don't think America is going to be successful," McCarthy said Sunday.

The California Republican also referred to Gaetz's tactics as "nothing new." 

"I'll survive. You know this is personal with Matt. Matt voted against the most conservative ability to protect our border, secure our border. He's more interested in securing TV interviews than doing something, he wanted to push us into a shutdown, even threatening his own district with all the military people there who would not be paid only because he wants to take this motion," he said.

”So be it, bring it on. Let's get over with it and let's start governing. If he's upset because he tried to push us in a shutdown and I made sure government didn't shut down, then let's have that fight."

Referencing the forthcoming motion to vacate, Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.) posted, "Let's Roll!" on X. 

Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) hasn't elaborated on how he would advise his caucus to handle the vote.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said over the weekend that she would “absolutely” vote in favor of a motion to vacate.

Gaetz was asked on Sunday how many Republicans votes he currently has for McCarthy's ouster. 

"Well, enough so that, when you host this show next week, if Kevin McCarthy is still the speaker of the House, he will be serving at the pleasure of the Democrats. He will be working for the Democrats," he said.

”The only way Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out. Now, they probably will."

CNN's Jake Tapper pointed out that Gaetz would need Democrat votes to remove McCarthy.

"I will make no deal with Democrats and concede no terms to them," he said. "I actually think Democrats should vote against Speaker McCarthy for free. I don't think I should have to deal them anything."

He continued: "I actually think that, when you believe in nothing, as Kevin McCarthy does, everything's negotiable. And I think he will cut a deal with the Democrats."

The 45-day bill Congress passed on Saturday sets up another shutdown showdown in mid-November if the GOP-led House and Democratic-led Senate cannot agree on the spending levels for the rest of FY2024.

When asked if the government will be facing another shutdown come Nov. 17, McCarthy said all eyes will be on the Senate.

"No, because the House is doing their work. We've already done more than 70% of it. So compare this to the Senate. The Senate hasn't passed one bill. The Senate didn't pass anything about the shutdown. The Senate hasn't passed anything about securing the border," he said.

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