Matt Gaetz spent all last week publicly threatening to oust Kevin McCarthy as Speaker, if McCarthy cut a budget deal to keep the government open. Instead McCarthy decided he was more afraid of the House Republicans in toss-up districts who didn’t want a shutdown, and he cut the deal accordingly. Now the fallout is underway, and it’s getting ugly already.
On Sunday morning Matt Gaetz went on television and announced that he’s indeed going to introduce a motion to oust Kevin McCarthy. Given that only six House Republicans (and all House Democrats) would need to vote to oust McCarthy, it’s possible that Gaetz could pull this off.
Also on Sunday morning, unnamed Kevin McCarthy surrogates told Fox News that they’re going to hold a vote to expel Matt Gaetz if the House Ethics Committee determines he should be. Given that McCarthy and his allies control the Ethics Committee, they can presumably have the committee produce a negative finding against Gaetz at any time – perhaps even this week.
It would take a two-thirds vote to expel Gaetz. Assuming every House Democrat votes to expel, 77 House Republicans would also need to vote to expel. That may not be difficult to pull off, particularly if McCarthy is pushing for it behind the scenes. House Republicans would lose nothing by expelling Gaetz, because he’s in a far right House district where he’d just end up replaced by some other Republican who’s less of a headache.
We’ll see what happens. Given how unpopular and vulnerable Kevin McCarthy and Matt Gaetz are, there might be enough votes to oust both of them. But either or both of them could be bluffing about calling a vote or the other’s ouster, and they might simply be putting all these threats out there in the hope of getting the other to back down.
Whether any ouster votes are held against McCarthy and/or Gaetz or not, the real story is that this is what the Republican House has turned into. The Republican Speaker is threatening to have a House Republican ousted for alleged underage sex trafficking, and in return that House Republican is threatening to have the Republican Speaker ousted. There’s no leadership or cohesion of any kind in the Republican House. It’s like a bad reality show.
Even as House Republicans try to take each other down, let’s keep in mind that the House majority is going to be a close call in 2024. It’ll be a close call and it’ll largely come down to the competitive races in the “toss up” column. Let’s get involved and help the Democrats win those House races and take the majority, so the Republicans won’t be in a position to keep making these kinds of messes going forward.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report