House votes to proceed with potential McCarthy ouster

House lawmakers are moving toward ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from power after weeks of disarray within the Republican conference over government spending.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., introduced a measure against McCarthy known as a motion to vacate on Monday night, accusing him of breaking promises he made to win the speaker’s gavel in January.

Eleven Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against killing that measure on Tuesday afternoon.

Lawmakers are now expected to launch into an hour of debate before voting on the actual motion to vacate – and if that succeeds, they must keep voting until a new one is selected via simple majority of the chamber.

Democrats signaled early on Tuesday that they would not be inclined to help McCarthy. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said before the vote, “[Democrats] are ready to find bipartisan common ground. Our extreme colleagues have shown no willingness to do the same. They must find a way to end the House Republican Civil War.”

Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., chair of the nearly 100-strong New Democrat Coalition – a caucus ranging from center-left to progressive – released a statement before the vote calling McCarthy “untrustworthy.”

In January, it took 15 rounds of voting until McCarthy was elected. This time is likely to be just as contentious, if not more so.

McCarthy angered hardliners over the weekend when he passed a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open for 45 days, in order to avert a government shutdown and give lawmakers more time to cobble together 12 individual spending bills.

Ninety House Republicans voted against the CR on Saturday, arguing that it was a “clean” extension of the previous Democratically-held Congress’ policies. But the speaker’s previous attempts to put a CR on the table that would cut spending for its short duration were upended by several of those same conservatives who were opposed to any such measure on principle.

The frustration at the small number of rebels was palpable among House Republicans on Tuesday morning.

“This is a distraction from what we should be focusing on, which is the appropriations process,” Main Street Caucus Vice Chair Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., said. “This is all about Matt Gaetz. It’s not about Kevin McCarthy. Matt Gaetz is using the American people as pawns in his narcissistic game of charades.”

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