Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Monday moved ahead in his attempt to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, offering a motion to vacate the chair on the House floor, a rare procedural move that can be used to force a vote to remove the speaker, CNN reports.
It is not yet clear how the challenge to McCarthy will play out, but the effort represents the most serious threat to his speakership to date. A floor vote to oust McCarthy would require a majority to succeed.
No House speaker has ever been ousted through the passage of a resolution to remove them, but threats over the use of what’s known as a “motion to vacate” can be a powerful way to apply pressure to a speaker.
Gaetz, a Florida Republican and frequent critic of McCarthy, had been pushing to oust the speaker by using the congressional mechanism to vacate the chair, which allows any one member the ability to call for a new speaker election.
To force a vote, a member must go to the House floor and announce their intent to offer the resolution to remove the speaker, as Gaetz did. Doing so requires the speaker to put the resolution on the legislative schedule within two legislative days, setting up a showdown on the floor over the issue.
A vote on a resolution to remove the speaker could still be preempted, however, even once it is on track to come to the floor for consideration.
Earlier on Monday, McCarthy refused to rule out cutting a deal with Democrats in order to survive Gaetz’s push.
“I think this is about the institution. I think it’s too important,” he told CNN. The speaker added that he has not yet spoken with Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries about how Democrats would handle the motion to vacate.
Gaetz, who is a close associate of former President Donald Trump, told CNN he spoke to Trump about ousting McCarthy but wouldn’t disclose any details about the conversation, saying he would “keep that between the two of us.”
Conservatives had threatened to oust McCarthy over relying on Democratic votes, as he did on Saturday to advance legislation staving off a government shutdown. Gaetz also cited the possibility of the House holding votes on sending aid to Ukraine as another reason to oust him, noted CNN.