US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.
Nathan Howard | Bloomberg | Getty Images
WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives rejected an effort to delay debate on a motion to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership.
The rejection triggers the start of what is expected to be at least an hour of bitter debate, pitting GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, McCarthy’s primary opponent, against the speaker’s allies.
Republicans hold a slim majority in the House.
But McCarthy’s hold on the speakership has been tenuous since he was elected in January, due to a small group of hard-line conservatives led by Gaetz who are unhappy with the Californian.
Gaetz on Monday night formally launched the process of trying to remove McCarthy with the so-called motion to vacate.
Gaetz claims that McCarthy no longer represents the interests of the GOP caucus after the speaker worked with Democrats to pass a stopgap funding bill to avoid a government shutdown over the weekend.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., in a statement said he and other Democratic leaders in the chamber “will vote yes” on Gaetz’s motion to oust McCarthy.
“It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War,” Jeffries said.
Gaetz has been threatening McCarthy with a motion to vacate since he worked with Democrats on a debt ceiling deal in the spring.
McCarthy told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday morning that Gaetz has “personal things in his life that he has challenges with.”
In January, as a condition to secure enough votes to become speaker, McCarthy agreed to change the rules to lower the threshold needed to bring a motion to oust a speaker from five votes to just one.