Gaetz Floats Bipartisan Compromise On Motion To Vacate
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) leaves the U.S. Capitol after U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted form his position, October 3, 2023 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has expressed openness to making a deal on changing the procedural tool he used in securing the removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as House speaker.

The Florida Republican urged colleagues on Thursday to consider reforms proposed by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) in exchange for tweaking the rules to make it harder to get a no-confidence vote in the chamber’s leader.

“Ok. Let’s negotiate. My GOP colleagues want to raise the threshold on the motion to vacate. This is a question for all of them,” Gaetz said in a post to X. “If we enact the reforms [Khanna] lays out here…. How high would you like the MTV threshold to be? Because I’ll basically give you whatever you want on the MTV for this stuff.”

Gaetz shared a post that highlighted Khanna announcing an anti-corruption plan, particularly proposals for term limits in Congress, cracking down on congressional stock trading, and stemming the flow of money from lobbyists and PACs.

A dialogue ensued as Khanna responded to a Washington Examiner reporter posting about Gaetz’s offer.

“Let’s push for a floor vote on any three of the items [Gaetz]! Instead of having members call each other names, it’s time to recognize the American people are fed up with how this place functions, don’t have a high opinion of us, & are demanding some common sense changes,” Khanna said.


“How many Democrats can you deliver for this agenda? I cap out somewhere around 8,” Gaetz said in reply.

“You know what’s sad, Matt,” Khanna responded. “Not more than 10. Let’s be honest with folks. The American people should know that LESS than 20 members advocate for banning PAC & lobbyist money, even though that polls at 80%. Many need to be shamed into voting for it once it’s put on the floor.”

The “motion to vacate the chair” is a parliamentary tool that has rarely been used throughout the history of the United States.

Lawmakers raised the threshold to require a majority of either party to bring a motion to vacate to the House floor in 2019 — as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) began her second stint as speaker. But the House rules package approved for this session of Congress restored the ability of a single member to trigger the process as a concession to GOP holdouts — a group that included Gaetz — while McCarthy sought to secure the speaker’s gavel across 15 votes in January.

Citing frustrations with McCarthy’s leadership, Gaetz filed a “motion to vacate the chair” this week after the GOP-controlled House passed a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown. Gaetz and seven other Republicans joined with Democrats in a 216-210 vote that ousted McCarthy, who later said he will not run another campaign for the position.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, have announced candidacies for the speakership on the GOP side. Democrats are likely to rally behind someone such as Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

There has also been some chatter about former President Donald Trump taking on the role, as the Constitution does not require a speaker to be a sitting member of the House. Trump emphasized in a post to Truth Social on Thursday that he is running a 2024 campaign for a second term in the White House, but expressed openness to helping in the process to pick a new speaker.

A simple majority is needed to secure victory in a chamber-wide vote for speaker. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) is holding the position in the interim.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers are pushing to change the “motion to vacate” rule.

Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) said he is not supporting any candidate until there is a commitment to reform the rule. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) said she is “willing to ditch” the “motion to vacate” if Jordan becomes speaker.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) encouraged the next speaker to get rid of the “motion to vacate” mechanism. “It makes the speaker’s job impossible, and the American people expect us to have a functioning government,” McConnell said.

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