Kevin McCarthy is offering a concession to allow the Conservatives to remove the speaker of the House
House Minority Hosted by Kevin McCarthy offers a last-minute deal to bring in conservative abstentions and win the speakership.
The embattled California Republican is proposing a change to congressional rules that would make it easier to remove a House speaker in exchange for his ascension to office. McCarthy’s offer would lower the threshold required for a motion to vacate the chair — a parliamentary move that requires a vote to retain the Speaker.
Currently, due to a rule change imposed by the Democratic Party chairman Nancy Pelosi, only a member of the leadership of the House can propose a motion to leave. Conservative Republicans in the House are pushing for that standard to be overturned, allowing any member to force a vote on the speaker at any time.
“Every member of Congress was elected to legislate on behalf of their constituents,” said Congressman Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican who is running against McCarthy for speaker. “To do that, members need to be able to hold their own leadership accountable.”
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Allowing members to propose a motion to vacate the chair is seen as an insurance policy by hardline Republicans. Many fear that once entrusted with the speaker’s gavel, McCarthy will refuse to threaten a partial government shutdown in an attempt to get President Biden to make policy concessions.
“While difficult in practice, this is an important mechanism for restoring trust and ensuring accountability,” said Congressman Chip Roy, R-Texas.
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Given that the upcoming GOP majority in the House of Representatives is only 222 seats, McCarthy cannot afford to ignore the demands. Officially, 218 votes are needed to win the position of Speaker of the House on January 3rd, assuming everyone is present and voting. McCarthy has already won five public no votes from Republicans.
Motions to impeach the Speaker were made only twice between 1910 and 2015. In the first instance, Democrats unsuccessfully tried to oust GOP Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon for ruling with what many claimed was an iron fist. The vote ultimately failed after Republicans refused to challenge their leader.
She was threatened again in July 2015 by then-Freedom Forum Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina. Meadows tried to force a vote on Republican Chairman John Boehner’s decision to remove him from the House Oversight Committee for voting against a trade bill.
Boehner’s leadership allies prevented the proposal from going directly to the floor, instead sending it to the House Rules Committee for consideration. Three months later, Boehner resigned after conservatives showed they would not abandon the issue.
After Boehner’s resignation, McCarthy made a bid for speakership, but was forced to abandon that goal after opposition from the Freedom faction. Because Republicans had only a slim majority, the group of nearly two dozen members had veto power.
Boehner’s successor as speaker, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, agreed to run for the top spot only after receiving a promise from the Freedom Caucus that it would not try to oust him in the same way.
Pelosi, D-Calif., changed the rule when Democrats partially took back the House in 2019.
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“The House cannot function if someone can take the entire House hostage at any moment over a petty disagreement with the speaker,” said a Republican congressional aide.
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