House Democrat Whip Katherine Clark (MA) revealed to Politico a scheme to use Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) effort to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as leverage to end the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
A Gaetz motion to vacate the chair would require Democrat votes for success. Clark, the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, revealed concessions Democrats would seek from McCarthy to oppose the Gaetz motion, essentially threatening to side with Gaetz to oust McCarthy if Democrat demands were not met.
“We want him to live up to the agreement [on toppling spending] that he made [with President Biden]. We want to get disaster aid out. We want to continue our support for Ukraine. And we want them to end this sham of an impeachment inquiry.”
The Massachusetts Democrat hopes to force McCarthy to choose between failing to prevent a shutdown, thus imperiling his speakership, or keeping the government open with Democrat support while further eroding his support inside his own conference.
Speculation has swirled in Washington since the early days of McCarthy’s speakership whether Democrats would come to his aid in the seemingly inevitable event McCarthy’s detractors forced a motion to vacate to the House floor. Gaetz, the conservative firebrand who has emerged as the most vocal and intransigent opponent of Kevin McCarthy, has promised to force a motion to vacate the chair if McCarthy brought forth a vote on a continuing resolution to continue current spending levels and avert a shutdown while Congress continues searching for a longer-term deal.
A deal that emerged Sunday between conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus and moderates in the Republican Main Street Caucus on a 30-day stopgap funding bill provided a brief glimmer of hope for McCarthy to unite his conference. That bill included much of the spending cuts conservatives crave as well as most of the provisions in H.R. 2, border security legislation passed by the House and widely supported by the GOP’s border hawks. Yet a handful of conservatives — enough to prevent the deal’s passage — balked, primarily over concerns that the spending cuts did not go far enough, killing that deal in the crib and leaving conservatives hoping to avoid getting rolled by the Senate scratching their heads.
The deadline to pass a funding bill is September 30.