July 20, 2024
A motion to vacate is a rare and strong procedural tool that has only been used twice in the past century against Republican speakers. But in recent years, conservatives have wielded the motion as a weapon against their leaders.

By Farnoush Amiri and Kevin Freking | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz filed a resolution late Monday to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker, setting up a likely showdown vote in the House in the days ahead.

The far-right Republican from Florida has for months threatened to use a procedural tool — called a motion to vacate — to try to strip McCarthy of his office. Those threats escalated over the weekend after McCarthy relied on Democrats to provide the necessary votes to fund the government.

A motion to vacate is a rare and strong procedural tool that has only been used twice in the past century against Republican speakers. But in recent years, conservatives have wielded the motion as a weapon against their leaders.

In January, McCarthy, hoping to appease some on the hard right like Gaetz as he fought to gain their vote for speaker, agreed to give as few as five Republican members the ability to initiate a vote to remove him. But when that wasn’t good enough for his critics, he agreed to reduce that threshold to one — the system that historically has been the norm.

That decision has set McCarthy up for the ultimate test of his leadership as he will now have to rely on Democrats to withhold their support for any effort to force his removal.

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