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McCarthy forces unable to halt vote on his ouster

Gaetz move to vacate speakership moves ahead after attempt to table defeated

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks with reporters after a meeting of the House Republican Conference on Tuesday ahead of votes on a motion by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to vacate the speaker's office.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks with reporters after a meeting of the House Republican Conference on Tuesday ahead of votes on a motion by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to vacate the speaker's office. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House teed up a vote later Tuesday on Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s fate after blocking a maneuver that would have ended — for now — a move to oust him from leadership brought from dissidents in his own party.

The chamber defeated a motion to table, or kill, a “motion to vacate” the speakership, as McCarthy’s feud with Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida threatened to kick off a fight for the speaker’s gavel nearly nine months after the California Republican secured it after 15 ballots. Every Democrat voting and 11 Republicans opposed tabling the resolution, which was defeated 208-218.

As members debated whether or not to oust him, McCarthy had little time to line up enough support to stay in the House’s top job. His allies said if McCarthy was ousted they would nominate him to return to office.

House Democrats on Tuesday were not offering any votes to save him, calling McCarthy untrustworthy, unable to manage his rowdy caucus and unwilling to govern.

“House Democrats remain willing to find common ground on an enlightened path forward. Unfortunately, our extreme Republican colleagues have shown no willingness to do the same,” Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a statement. “It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War. Given their unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism in an authentic and comprehensive manner, House Democratic leadership will vote yes on the pending Republican Motion to Vacate the Chair.”

The 11 GOP members voting against blocking the motion to vacate were Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Eli Crane of Arizona, Warren Davidson of Ohio, Bob Good of Virginia, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Cory Mills of Florida, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Victoria Spartz of Indiana and Gaetz.

As he departed the speaker’s suite and headed for the chamber before the vote to table, McCarthy told reporters he was “feeling good.” Asked if he would want to be on ballot after ballot, if a speaker’s race is triggered, he replied: “We’ll see what happens.”

During an unrelated vote before the speaker votes, Gaetz shuffled anxiously before sitting in the chamber’s front row, holding a white sheet of paper and a folder. While McCarthy was in his Capitol suite huddle with advisers, Gaetz spent the early afternoon inside the House chamber, but not chatting with other members.

Former President Donald Trump, whom Gaetz said he spoke with earlier this week, posted on his social media network just before the voting started — but did not overtly back McCarthy.

“Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our Country?” he posted.

Caitlin Reilly, Mary Ellen McIntire, Laura Weiss, David Lerman, and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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