US House Speaker faces threat from within his own party

Matt Gaetz, a hardline Republican congressman, said Kevin McCarthy should be removed for passing emergency funding bill

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Reuters
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Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, is facing a threat to his job after a member of his own Republican Party on Sunday said he should stripped of the gavel for passing an emergency government funding bill.

Matt Gaetz, a hardline Republican congressman, told multiple US media outlets he would file a “motion to vacate”, forcing a call for a vote to remove Mr McCarthy as speaker in a test of the leader's support in the House, which his party controls by a narrow 221-212 margin.

“I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy,” Mr Gaetz told CNN.

Mr McCarthy became speaker in January, taking over from Nancy Pelosi after the Democrats lost control of the House in last year's midterm elections. He was forced to undergo 15 rounds of voting before being elected speaker, primarily due to Mr Gaetz and other hardline Republicans.

One of the concessions they extracted from Mr McCarthy was a rule change that now allows any individual member of Congress to call for a vote to remove the speaker.

Mr McCarthy’s response: “So be it. Bring it on. Let’s get over with it and let’s start governing,” he told CBS.

It was not clear how much support Mr McCarthy would have in such a vote, nor whether any Democrats would back him. Mr McCarthy angered Democrats last month by launching an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

“If at this time next week Kevin McCarthy is still speaker of the House, it will be because Democrats bailed him out,” Mr Gaetz said in an interview on ABC.

“I am relentless and I will continue to pursue this objective.”

Mr McCarthy stunned Washington on Saturday when he backed a bill to fund the government until November 17, averting a partial shutdown but not imposing any of the spending cuts or changes to border security that his hardline colleagues had called for.

The bill, which was approved by the Senate on a broad bipartisan basis and signed into law by President Joe Biden, is meant to give lawmakers more time to agree on a deal to fund the government until October 1, 2024.

Updated: October 02, 2023, 12:27 PM