US Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz has threatened to file a motion for the removal of House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy for relying on Democrat support for the 45-day stopgap legislation that helped avoid a government shutdown.
McCarthy presented the stopgap proposal just hours before the midnight deadline, which, if not met, would have resulted in millions of federal employees and military personnel either being sent home or required to work without pay. The House of Representatives adopted the measure with a vote of 335-91.
McCarthy had initially pushed for a purely partisan bill, as demanded by hardline members of his party. However, the hopes of introducing more conservative funding by hardline Republicans were dashed when the Speaker opted for a bipartisan approach to avoid potential turmoil.
Gaetz, a longtime rival of McCarthy, said that he was acting in "brazen, material breach" of agreements made with Republicans when he ran for the post of House Speaker in January. Gaetz further said that he will file for a motion to "vacate the chair", in accordance with House rules.
"I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy," said Gaetz. However, no House Speaker has been removed from office through such action.
Gaetz had previously threatened to file his ouster motion if McCarthy worked with Democrats, claiming that the spending package surpassed previous levels to which McCarthy had agreed to. He also said that he can garner enough Republican support so that McCarthy can only retain his post with the help of Democrats.
Bring it on: McCarthy
McCarthy, who reportedly knew the risks of his removal by hardline members of the party by adopting bipartisan legislation, dared Gaetz to "bring it on". "So be it. Bring it on. Let’s get over with it and let’s start governing," he said.
As the stopgap bill was passed, many Republican lawmakers complained that the House waited too long to take up annual spending bills, spoiling an opportunity to force the Senate to negotiate on spending and policy priorities.
McCarthy's proposed bill on Sunday brought a short-term plan to fund the government that would enact steep spending cuts of nearly 30% for many agencies and strict border security provisions. That proposal was rejected by Democrats and even some Republicans.
On Saturday, McCarthy proposed that agencies be funded at current levels till November and $16 billion be provided to disaster relief for states and communities dealing with hurricanes and other natural disasters. The bill was supported by Democrats and both the House and the Democrat-controlled Senate passed the legislation.
McCarthy enjoys the support of a large majority of Republicans in the House, but the GOP holds a slim majority of 221-212, meaning that he needs the support of some Democrats to keep his job. Democratic Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that she would vote to oust McCarthy for being a "weak speaker" and "losing control of his caucus.
Gaetz has been criticised by some House Republicans, with New York's Mike Lawler alleging Gaetz's "diatribe of delusional thinking" was for “personal, political reasons". McCarthy has expressed optimism that Gaetz would fail and said that he has been after him since he ran for speaker.
(with AP inputs)