House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) signaled on Thursday that he is ready to take on any effort to remove him as speaker brought by members of his own party.
The “threats don’t matter,” McCarthy insisted during a news conference when a reporter asked him to share his message to GOP colleagues during a closed-door meeting about the challenge to his leadership. “Sometimes people do those things because of personal things, and that’s all fine,” he said.
“Most people get to speaker on the first round — [it] took me 15,” McCarthy added. “I’m a little Irish, okay? I don’t walk away from a battle. I knew changing Washington would not be easy. I knew people would fight or try to hold leverage for other things. I’m going to continue just to focus on what’s the right thing to do for the American people. And you know what? If it takes a fight, I’ll have a fight.”
Speaker Kevin McCarthy is asked what his message is to members who have threatened to try to oust him after a testy House GOP meeting:
“Sometimes people do those things because of personal things … I don’t walk away from a battle … If it takes a fight, I’ll have a fight.” pic.twitter.com/347fOUBpHg
— The Recount (@therecount) September 14, 2023
A member of McCarthy’s conference, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), warned this week that McCarthy would face a “motion to vacate” that could pave the way to a no-confidence vote to remove him as speaker without a change in direction.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): "Mr. Speaker you are out of compliance with agreement that allowed you to assume this role. The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate total compliance, or remove you pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair." pic.twitter.com/TXcrrsRuiF
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 12, 2023
Gaetz claimed McCarthy is “out of compliance” with a deal struck in January that allowed him to become speaker after 15 rounds of voting, citing a lack of action on reining in spending, balancing the budget, releasing the January 6 tapes, term limits, and sending out subpoenas to members of President Joe Biden‘s family.
A formal impeachment inquiry into Biden over allegations of corruption, which McCarthy announced on Tuesday, was only a “baby step,” Gaetz argued. The Florida Republican also conceded votes on his priority issues may not go his way but still wants them on the record so the American people can see the tallies.
Under the House rules package approved for this session of Congress, only a single member is needed to trigger the process that could lead to a no-confidence vote in the speaker. For such a vote to succeed, a simple majority is required, meaning Democrats could join with a few disaffected Republicans to secure McCarthy’s ouster. At least one other Republican, Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ), has said he would be “willing to entertain” the effort to remove McCarthy.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) criticized House Republicans on Thursday for what he said was their “three-ring circus” that involves the prospect of a government shutdown at the end of September, impeachment, and forcing a “right-wing ideology” on the American people.