On Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filed a motion to vacate, which he has been threatening to do for months, claiming McCarthy has violated promises he made to get the speaker role.
Now, the California Republican must schedule a vote on Gaetz’s motion sometime Tuesday or Wednesday.
McCarthy made a Monday evening phone call to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who might be his best chance at keeping the speakership, according to Punchbowl News. But getting Democratic support won’t be an easy feat, and the optics for Republican voters may cause further problems.
To defeat the motion, McCarthy needs a majority of votes, and the Republicans already have a razor-thin majority. On top of that, Gaetz represents a faction of Republican members who are displeased with the speaker, and enough have committed to join Gaetz — such as Reps. Bob Good (R-VA), Tim Burchett (R-TN), and Eli Crane (R-AZ) — putting McCarthy in direct danger unless he enlists the help of Democrats.
This is something Democrats are taking seriously. Jeffries and his leadership team reportedly met Monday night to discuss the possibility. But the Democratic leaders are of the belief that they shouldn’t bail McCarthy out. It is up to Jeffries, though.
If the minority leader were to push for Democrats to support McCarthy against the motion, he would likely anger progressive conference members. He also must consider what the move might look like to Democratic voters.
Several Democrats have made it clear to Punchbowl News they will follow Jeffries’s lead, meaning he has McCarthy’s fate in his hands.
This is something Gaetz predicted. “If he’s able to stay in power, it will be him working for the Democrats, continuing to do their bidding. So this is a revealing exercise, and I think it will show the country who’s really in charge,” he said after filing the motion.
The ability of one House member to be able to trigger a vote on a motion to vacate was a concession McCarthy made during the tense series of votes and negotiations it took to get the Republican conference behind him in January to vote him to House speaker. But it may also be his undoing.