A Frustrated McCarthy Dares His Own Members to Oust Him

A Frustrated McCarthy Dares His Own Members to Oust Him

Sipa USA

The growing frustrations of Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans have reached the point where the f-bombs start flying.

With intraparty tensions escalating ahead of a September 30 deadline to avoid a government shutdown, McCarthy on Thursday morning dared hardliners in his conference to try to oust him.

“You guys think I’m scared of a motion to vacate. Go f---ing ahead and do it. I’m not scared,” McCarthy reportedly told the House GOP conference during a closed-door meeting that was convened to discuss the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

McCarthy reportedly called on members to go ahead and file “the f---ing motion” to vacate the speaker’s job, the formal process by which he could be removed.

Republicans have been struggling to settle on a path forward as various factions make demands in the current fight over spending levels. “The leverage point we have is this spending fight right now — it’s the only leverage point we have for the next year,” Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a leader of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus said on a radio talk show, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Far-right Republicans have pushed for more details about McCarthy’s plans to approve a stopgap measure to fund the government and pass some security-related appropriations bills. Hardliners in McCarthy’s conference have demanded policy concessions and expressed concerns over spending levels, border security and Ukraine funding. They insist that fiscal 2024 spending must be set to 2022 levels.

At the same time, the Republican Study Committee — a group that includes almost 80% of House Republicans — is now calling for any short-term spending bill to include border security measures as well as spending cuts. The group conducted a survey of its members and the results “indicate that a sizable number of Republicans won't accept temporary funding without significant wins for conservatives,” Axios reports.

Any plan with such significant wins for conservatives would be unlikely to pass the Senate, though, meaning that a government shutdown could be in the offing — a politically perilous result for McCarthy and Republicans.

The speaker reportedly still has the support of the majority of House Republicans and received a standing ovation at Thursday morning’s meeting, but under the terms of the deal he struck in January as he sought to win the speaker’s gavel any one lawmaker can seek his ouster. Most notably, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has threatened that he would seek to have McCarthy removed if the speaker brings up a short-term funding patch.

Gaetz charged this week that McCarthy has violated an agreement to bring up votes on term limits and balancing the budget. He reportedly shot back at McCarthy Thursday by saying the speaker should “move the f---ing spending bills.”

“Instead of emotionally cursing, maybe the speaker should just keep his word from January on balanced budgets, term limits and single-subject spending bills,” Gaetz told The Hill.

McCarthy acknowledged to reporters after Thursday’s meeting that he had “showed frustration” with his fellow Republicans because he was “frustrated with some people in the conference.” Asked to share the precise language he had used if he did not mind, he laughed and said, “I mind sharing with you.”

McCarthy did say, though, that he told his members that after they return next week they will have to stay in session until they get the spending bills settled. “We’re going to get this done,” he said. “Nobody wins in a government shutdown.” He later added that he would continue to try to do what’s right for the American public. “You know what, if it takes a fight, I’ll have a fight,” he said.

Why it matters: House Republicans, riven by internal conflicts and possessing a slim 222-212 majority, are failing at the basic tasks of governance. They have passed only one of the 12 annual appropriations bills. They had to put off a procedural vote Wednesday on a bill funding the Defense Department — which Republicans are typically happy to support — because they lacked the votes to advance it. And McCarthy this week ordered the Biden impeachment inquiry without holding a vote on the House floor, contrary to his initial stance on the issue, because some of his moderate members have been hesitant about launching the probe.

The bottom line: Congress has 16 days to prevent a partial shutdown, but some GOP lawmakers reportedly now see a shutdown as highly likely or even inevitable. “The big challenge here for McCarthy,” Punchbowl News said this morning, “is that he’s dealing with a group of legislative nihilists — lawmakers who don’t much care about a government shutdown and are in no rush to find a solution to the looming funding crisis.”