Hakeem Jeffries Directs Democrats to Vote to Boot Speaker McCarthy

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has informed his caucus that the Democrat leadership will vote for Matt Gaetz’s motion to declare the Speaker’s chair vacant. That vote, which is expected later today, would make Speaker Kevin McCarthy the first House Speaker in the history of the Republic to be removed from office, and the way forward will either leave the GOP or Matt Gaetz and his allies looking like a clown car.

A little earlier today, I posted on the “what next” dilemma caused by Matt Gaetz. In that post, I suggested that Speaker McCarthy might cut a deal with Democrats to avoid being ousted. As much as I hate to admit it, I may have been incorrect.

In a Tuesday morning interview on CNBC, McCarthy stated that he would not make any deal with Democrats.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday morning that he won’t offer any concessions to Democrats in exchange for helping him keep his leadership post as far-right conservatives prepare to try to oust him.
“They haven’t asked for anything, I’m not going to provide anything,” McCarthy said in an interview on CNBC.

He also said he would bring the petition up for a vote today, and his chances were grim.

Part of McCarthy’s sangfroid on cutting a deal and the frank assessment of his chances of surviving a vote may have been rooted in the knowledge that there was no imminent lifeline from the Democrats.

Sunday Democrat thought leader Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told Jake Tapper that she would support Gaetz’s petition.

TAPPER: So, do you think that there will be any Democrats that might vote to save McCarthy?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I mean, I certainly don’t think that we would expect to see that, unless there’s a real conversation between the Republican and Democratic Caucuses and Republican and Democratic leadership about what that would mean.

But I don’t think we give up votes for free.

TAPPER: And do you — but would you vote to vacate? Would you vote to get rid of McCarthy as speaker?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Would I cast that vote? Absolutely. Absolutely.

I think Kevin McCarthy is a very weak speaker. He clearly has lost control of his caucus. He has brought the United States and millions of Americans to the brink, waiting until the final hour to keep the government open, and, even then, only issuing a 45-day extension.

So, we’re going to be right back in this place in November. And I think that our main priority has to be the American people and what’s going to keep our governance in a cohesive and strong place. But, unless Kevin McCarthy asks for a vote, again, I don’t think we give something away for free.

Now House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has sent a “Dear Colleagues” letter saying the House Democrat leadership will vote to send McCarthy packing.

Dear Colleague:

Earlier today, we convened as a Caucus to discuss the current state of affairs in the House of Representatives. Emerging from the meeting, we are unified in our commitment to put people over politics, continue to build a healthy economy and make life more affordable for everyday Americans. 

The House was designed by our nation’s framers to be the closest to the American people and reflect the hopes, dreams and aspirations of those we are privileged to represent. Instead, under the Republican majority, the House has been restructured to empower right-wing extremists, kowtow to their harsh demands and impose a rigid partisan ideology. The Constitution gifted us a government of the people, by the people and for the people. House Republicans have undermined that principle at every turn and unleashed chaos, dysfunction and extremism on hardworking American taxpayers. 

First, the House was plunged into unprecedented dysfunction in connection with the leadership election during the first week of January. Instead of partnering with Democrats to break the deadlock, the House Republican Conference adopted an unprecedented package of rules governing this institution designed to detonate bipartisan governance. Right-wing Republicans with an extensive track record of obstructing the people’s business were appointed to the powerful Rules Committee, effectively giving them a veto over bipartisan legislative efforts. Every single House Republican, including those who present themselves as more traditional, voted to support the extreme rules package.  

Second, in prior Congresses the Motion to Vacate the Chair could only be brought by the Majority Leader or the Minority Leader, upon direction from members of the body. Instead of preserving the motion to vacate as an extraordinary vehicle to be used rarely, if ever, House Republicans willingly transformed it into an instrument that could be deployed by any extreme member of their conference at any time. Once again, the House Republican Conference in its entirety empowered the MAGA extremists to paralyze the institution.

Third, from the very beginning of the 118th Congress, House Democrats have made it clear that we will find common ground with our Republican colleagues wherever possible.  We have done so repeatedly on behalf of the American people. At the same time, House Democrats have made clear that we will forcefully combat extremism whenever necessary.

Democrats came together in a bipartisan way to avert a catastrophic Republican-driven default on our debt that would have crashed the economy.  Rather than celebrate and affirm this major bipartisan achievement, extreme MAGA Republicans immediately turned against it.  House Republicans backed out of the agreement with President Biden that they themselves negotiated just days after its passage, hurdling us toward this chaotic moment. 

Fourth, the Armed Services Committee this summer worked hard to advance a strongly bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act to the House Floor. The bill emerged from committee by a vote of 58-1. Instead of supporting our military readiness and embracing this bipartisan legislative effort, Republicans hijacked the National Defense Authorization Act and turned the bill into a right-wing wish list full of highly partisan poison pills. The House Republican decision to jam their extreme right-wing ideology down the throats of the American people included radical provisions to rip away reproductive freedom from military women. This type of extreme governance is unacceptable. 

Fifth, after claiming that an impeachment inquiry would be initiated only through a vote on the floor of the people’s House and not through a declaration by one person, House Republicans did the opposite. Extreme MAGA Republicans are wasting time and taxpayer dollars peddling an illegitimate impeachment inquiry despite their own witnesses testifying under oath that there is no evidence that President Joe Biden engaged in any wrongdoing. Rather than work with us to solve problems for everyday Americans, extremism continues to run rampant in the House of Representatives.

We confront a serious, solemn and sober moment. The vote that the House will cast this week in connection with a Motion to Vacate the Chair is not about any one individual. Our responsibility as Members of Congress relates to the Constitution, the principle of good governance and the people we are privileged to serve. Nothing more, and nothing less. 

In that regard, House Democrats remain willing to find common ground on an enlightened path forward. Unfortunately, our extreme Republican colleagues have shown no willingness to do the same. It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War. Given their unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism in an authentic and comprehensive manner, House Democratic leadership will vote yes on the pending Republican Motion to Vacate the Chair.

Jeffries stopped short of saying the vote would be whipped, but saying the Democrat leadership wants an affirmative vote is damned close to it.

The reasons behind the letter can all be boiled down to “a lack of trust.”

  • McCarthy didn’t vote to certify the election on Jan. 6, 2021. The attack on the U.S. Capitol is still raw on Capitol Hill, and Democrats will never forgive McCarthy for voting against certification after the mob was cleared from the building. 
  • McCarthy said former president Donald Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 riot — and then, a few weeks later, traveled to Mar-a-Lago and took an infamous picture with Trump with their thumbs up. Democrats are still furious about the incident, which helped revive Trump politically and whitewash the severity of his role on Jan. 6. 
  • McCarthy worked against the creation of the Jan. 6 select committee, which Democrats viewed as an attempt to protect Trump. 
  • McCarthy gave the Jan. 6 security footage to since-fired television host Tucker Carlson without releasing it to news outlets. 
  • McCarthy delivered votes for the Cares Act — a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in 2020 and signed by Trump — and later became highly critical of pandemic relief legislation.
  • He worked with Democrats to help put together the microchips manufacturing bill last year and then whipped his party to vote against it.
  • McCarthy backed out of a spending agreement he made with President Biden as part of a deal to lift the debt limit less than two weeks after Biden signed the law in an attempt to placate the furious conservatives in his conference. Democrats on the House floor on Saturday chanted, “Keep your word!”
  • McCarthy said in August that he would hold a vote on the House floor to open an impeachment inquiry against Biden. In September, on the first day back from summer recess, McCarthy opened an impeachment inquiry and did not hold such a vote. 
  • On Saturday morning, McCarthy didn’t give lawmakers 72 hours to read the short-term spending bill to keep the government open despite House rules. Republicans argued that it was an amendment and not a full bill so the 72-hour rule didn’t apply. But Democrats were given just minutes to read it and vote on it despite asking Republican leadership for more time. (Democrats deployed stalling tactics to get about two hours to read and discuss the bill.)
  • On Sunday, McCarthy went on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and charged Democrats with wanting a shutdown. That infuriated Democrats, who voted nearly unanimously for the government spending bill when fewer than half of Republicans did.

This afternoon, one of two things will happen. Either Republicans pull back from the abyss and vote to keep McCarthy in office. 

This would result in egg on the face of Gaetz, a small number of “friends of Matt.” This doesn’t bother me at all; in fact, I think a lot of good could come from it.

The other alternative is that the House is left without a Speaker as it is trying to find a way to appropriate funds for the next fiscal year.

Should McCarthy be removed, the question becomes who will become Speaker. Minnesota’s Tom Emmer has had his name floated as a replacement, but he’s said he will vote for McCarthy and not allow his name to be entered into nomination. My guess is that McCarthy might very well be re-elected.

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