In January, Kevin McCarthy became House speaker only after 15 rounds of voting… and after granting each individual representative the power to call a vote on whether to oust him.
McCarthy is now facing the threat of such a vote, and he scoffed at the challenge.
McCarthy fielded questions Monday about Rep. Matt Gaetz and his threats to call a vote on vacating the speakership.
The House speaker laughed it off.
“Oh my God, someone tweeted about me? Oh my god, I’m gonna lose the speakership because somebody tweeted about me,” McCarthy said sarcastically to an editor at Punchbowl News. “That would’ve happened a long time ago.”
Gaetz has, in fact, tweeted threats to call a vote on ousting McCarthy.
“I rise today to serve notice: Mr. Speaker, you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role,” the Florida Republican said on the House floor, in a video pinned to the top of his Twitter profile. “The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate, total compliance or remove you pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair.”
McCarthy himself publicly dismissed Gaetz’s threat later that day. He was “not at all” worried, he told reporters according to The Hill.
“Matt’s Matt,” McCarthy reportedly told the press Monday. “He can threaten all he wants.”
Take a look —
On this very floor in January, the whole world witnessed a historic contest for House Speaker.— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 12, 2023
I rise today to serve notice. Mr. Speaker, you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role. The path forward for the House of Representatives is to… pic.twitter.com/1IFsrmT8KK
Speaker McCarthy asked about @mattgaetz constant Twitter threats to try to oust him:— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) September 18, 2023
“Oh my god, someone tweeted about me?
“Oh my god, I'm gonna lose the speakership because somebody tweeted about me. That would’ve happened a long time ago.”
Behind closed doors, McCarthy sounded even more confident. The House speaker reportedly dared Gaetz and his allies to file the motion to vacate.
“File the f***ing motion,” McCarthy said in a closed-door meeting Thursday, according to The Associated Press.
“I showed frustration in here because I am frustrated with some people in the conference,” McCarthy said after the meeting in the Capitol basement as lawmakers were wrapping up for the week.
It remains unclear who else could win a speakership election… or who else would even want to become House speaker.
The overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted for McCarthy’s speakership in the first round, when only about half of the Freedom Caucus was supporting McCarthy. In the 14th round of voting, Gaetz became the deciding vote against McCarthy and subjected him to the 15th attempt.