Representative Matt Gaetz appears to be launching a weird bid to whip up Democratic votes to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House.
The House returns from recess on Tuesday, and one of the first orders of business will be to pass an appropriations bill. Some of the farthest-right representatives are threatening to block the bill—and risk shutting down the government—unless some of their demands are met. These demands include opening an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.
Gaetz tweeted last week that he wanted single-subject appropriations bills instead of one big spending package, a subpoena for first son Hunter Biden to testify before Congress, and impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell then accused Gaetz of folding “like a cheap card table” to McCarthy and never following through on his threats to hold the speaker accountable.
Gaetz hit back Sunday evening. “Hi, Eric,” he said on Twitter. “If I make a motion to remove Kevin, how [many] democrat votes can I count on?”
Gaetz then appeared to try to goad Swalwell into a response, pointing out that he had co-sponsored a bill with progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to ban members of Congress from owning stocks.
The Florida Republican was one of the last holdouts during the interminable rounds of votes for House speaker in January. Gaetz finally switched his vote to “present,” handing the gavel to McCarthy.
But Gaetz and other members of the far-right Freedom Caucus had won multiple concessions from McCarthy in the process, including restoring the motion to vacate. This rule would allow any single member of the House to call for a vote to remove McCarthy. Freedom Caucus members have previously hinted they would make such a motion, but they have yet to make good on that threat.