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Matt Gaetz moves to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker, setting up dramatic vote

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(WASHINGTON) — Hard-line Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz on Monday night introduced a motion to remove Kevin McCarthy from the House speakership, setting up a dramatic vote over the future of the chamber’s Republican majority.

The motion must be voted on within two legislative days, under House rules.

“Bring it on,” McCarthy soon responded on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Gaetz, a Florida lawmaker, had said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday that he would bring a so-called motion to vacate against McCarthy, criticizing how McCarthy has handled spending and budget fights since the GOP took control of the House in January and contending that McCarthy broke promises to other conservatives about how he would lead.

“Kevin McCarthy, at one point or another, has lied to all of us,” he said.

McCarthy has projected confidence about facing the motion, telling on CBS on Sunday: “I’ll survive.” He suggested Gaetz was motivated by a “personal” grudge, which Gaetz denies.

“Let’s get over with it. Let’s start governing,” McCarthy said. “If he’s upset because he tried to push us into a shutdown and I made sure government didn’t shut down, then let’s have that talk.”

McCarthy will need a majority of votes to beat back the motion, but Republicans hold only a five-seat majority. It’s unclear if Gaetz has more than a handful of other members who will support him, but at least one Democrat — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — has said she would vote to remove McCarthy.

No speaker has ever been removed in this way, though such motions have been attempted a few times in history.

Moments after he spoke on the House floor earlier on Monday, teasing that he would bring the motion against McCarthy, Gaetz conceded to ABC News that he may not have the votes to kick McCarthy out of his job as he addressed reporters outside the Capitol.

Asked by ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott if he would he try again if his efforts fail, Gaetz said, “Yeah.”

“Well, like I’ve said, it took Speaker McCarthy 15 votes to become the speaker. So until I get to 14 or 15, I don’t think I’m being any more dilatory than he was,” he said.

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