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Gaetz Says He’ll Introduce Motion to Vacate Speaker’s Chair After Short-Term Spending Deal

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Rep. Matt Gaetz appears poised to follow through on a previous threat to vacate House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) chair after the Florida Republican accused him of doing a deal with Democrats to pass a short-term government funding bill.

That said, during an interview Sunday with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Gaetz predicted that McCarthy would be saved by Democrats after the Speaker previously dared Gaetz to file a motion to vacate.

Here’s a partial transcript:

CNN ANCHOR JAKE TAPPER: So, you have been threatening to topple McCarthy, issue a motion to vacate the speakership, if he worked with Democrats to fund the government with a clean C.R., a clean government spending bill, which is exactly what he did on Friday and Saturday.

The House gavels back in tomorrow at noon. Are you going to make a motion to vacate?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Speaker McCarthy made an agreement with House conservatives in January. And, since then, he has been in brazen, repeated material breach of that agreement.

This agreement that he made with Democrats to really blow past a lot of the spending guardrails we had set up is a last straw. And then, overnight, I learned that Kevin McCarthy had a secret deal with Democrats on Ukraine.

So, as he was baiting Republicans to vote for a continuing resolution without Ukraine money, saying that we were going to jam the Senate on Ukraine, he then turns around and makes a secret deal.

Now, I know you and I probably have different views on U.S. involvement in Ukraine, but however you think about that question, it should be subject to open review analysis and not some backroom deal.

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So, I do intend…

TAPPER: So, motion to vacate tomorrow?

GAETZ: I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week.

TAPPER: This week.

GAETZ: I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.

Look, the one thing everybody has in common is that nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy. He lied to Biden. He lied to House conservatives. He had appropriators marking to a different number altogether. And the reason we were backed up against the shutdown politics is not a bug of the system. It’s a feature.

Kevin McCarthy’s goal was to make multiple contradictory promises, to delay everything, back us up against shutdown politics, and, at the end of the day, blow past the spending guardrails he had agreed to.

TAPPER: So, how many Republicans do you think will be with you in your motion to vacate?

Because, obviously, for people at home who don’t know, you need 218 votes to get him out of the speakership. You don’t have 218 Republican votes. You’re going to need Democrats.

Let’s start with the Republicans. How many Republicans do you have?

GAETZ: 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.

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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.

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.

TAPPER: OK.

But let’s be — let’s be honest here, though, because, if you succeed in vacating him, you also will have to make a deal with the Democrats. You also will have to get Democratic votes to kick him out.

GAETZ: Well, absolutely, I will make no deal with Democrats and concede no terms to them.

I actually think Democrats should vote against Speaker McCarthy for free. I don’t think I should have to deal them anything.

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TAPPER: Oh, so you’re not going to cut any deals with them?

GAETZ: Absolutely not. And I don’t think that any Republicans that share my view on Speaker McCarthy would cut deals with Democrats.

But here’s the thing. I’m done owning Kevin McCarthy, right? We made a deal at the end of Jan — or in January to allow him to assume the speakership. And I’m not owning him anymore because he doesn’t tell the truth.

And so, if Democrats want to own Kevin McCarthy by bailing him out, I can’t stop him. But then he will be their speaker, not mine.

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