Republican US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing a precarious future as hardliners within his own party seek to remove him, and Democrats hold him responsible for nearly causing a government shutdown.
McCarthy recently brokered a last-minute deal to fund the government for an additional 45 days. However, this move angered right-wing Republicans who wanted deep spending cuts and disappointed Democrats who believed that McCarthy had gone back on previous promises to prevent a budget crisis.
Prominent hardline Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz announced his intention to file a motion to remove McCarthy as House speaker due to the compromise with Democrats, saying, “I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid.”
Gaetz leads a small group of far-right Republican legislators who had pushed the government to the brink of shutdown by refusing to approve federal funding without significant spending cuts.
US President Joe Biden criticized McCarthy and the hardliners for not honoring an agreement made months ago to avoid a damaging shutdown fight and for removing support for Ukraine from the deal.
Democrats could potentially support McCarthy as speaker, given his role in brokering the bipartisan shutdown compromise, despite the anger expressed by some on the left.
Kevin McCarthy narrowly secured his position as House speaker in January after a challenging battle that involved a record 15 rounds of voting. To secure the role, he had to make concessions to the far-right faction of his party, including allowing a rule change that allows a single member to call for a vote for a new speaker.
McCarthy expressed confidence that he would survive a motion to remove him, stating, “I will survive.”
If McCarthy faces a removal vote, it could disrupt Congress’s work, which must be completed by mid-November to meet deadlines.
While pro-McCarthy Republicans are pledging their support, progressive lawmakers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are prepared to vote against McCarthy’s continuation as speaker.
The stopgap measure to fund the government temporarily allows time for negotiations on full-year spending bills for the remainder of fiscal 2024.