Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, is fighting for his political life after a right-wing rebel made a rare motion to get rid of him.
Matt Gaetz did something, so Mr. McCarthy said on social media, “Bring it on.” In response, Mr. Gaetz said, “Just did.”
After the Speaker passed a bill to pay government agencies with the help of Democrats, there was a lot of tension between the two Republicans over the weekend.
A “motion to vacate” has never been used to get rid of a US Speaker.
The leadership has two days to put the measure up for a vote, but the process could be stopped by using certain tools.
In a vote on the floor, 218 votes, or a clear majority, would be needed to get rid of the Speaker.
With a slim majority of 221-212, Republicans run the chamber. But only a few staunch Republicans have said they are ready to get rid of Mr. McCarthy.
After the US vice-president, the Speaker is the next person in line to become president. He or she decides what the goals are for the lower house of Congress, assigns committees, and can make or break the White House’s plans.
The deal that stopped the government from shutting down late Saturday did not include $6 billion (£5 billion) for Ukraine because Mr. Gaetz of Florida and other ultraconservatives said the US has already spent too much on Ukraine’s war with Russia.
Since January, when he led party rebels in rejecting the California congressman’s bid for the speakership, Mr. Gaetz has been threatening to get rid of Mr. McCarthy. This is because Mr. McCarthy had to go through 15 long rounds of voting in the chamber.
During the political back-and-forth that happened before he won the gavel, Mr. McCarthy agreed to change the rules so that any single member could call for a vote to get rid of the Speaker.
That made it possible for the move to leave to be made.
In a speech on the House floor on Monday, Mr. Gaetz said that Mr. McCarthy had made a secret deal with the White House to sneak new money for Ukraine into other bills.
“There is no side deal on Ukraine,” Mr. McCarthy said.
After filing the move to vacate, Mr. Gaetz told a group of reporters, “Well, I have enough Republicans that, at this point next week, one of two things will happen.
“Kevin McCarthy won’t be the Speaker of the House, or he’ll be the Speaker of the House working for the Democrats, and I’m fine with either outcome, because the American people deserve to know who governs them.”
When reporters asked Mr. Gaetz earlier on Monday if his actions were causing chaos in the institution, he said, “You talk about chaos as if it’s just me forcing a few votes and making a few motions.
“Real chaos will happen when the American people have to go through the austerity that will happen if we keep having annual deficits of $2 trillion,”
Monday night, Mr. Gaetz told reporters outside the Capitol that he would be willing to back Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise, who is currently Mr. McCarthy’s right-hand man, if he ran for Speaker.
Before Mr. Gaetz spoke on the floor, California Republican Tom McClintock criticized what he called the “self-destructive course” of trying to get rid of the Speaker.
Without naming his Florida colleague, Mr. McClintock said, “I beg my Republican colleagues to put aside their biases, passions, wrong ideas, local interests, and self-centered views.”
According to the rules of the house, the Speaker has to keep a list of people who could fill in temporarily if the position ever became vacant.
If Mr. McCarthy was voted out, this list would be made public, and the person at the top would be named Speaker pro tempore until the house held elections for a new leader of the majority party in the chamber.
Now, Democrats have to decide if they will aid the Speaker keep his job by voting for him.
Democrats are upset with Mr. McCarthy because he recently agreed to start a congressional investigation to see if there is enough proof to impeach President Joe Biden.
But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a left-leaning congressman from New York, told CNN on Sunday that Mr. McCarthy’s fellow Democrats might be willing to help him out politically if they can get him to make some changes.
The odd way to get rid of the Speaker has only been used twice in the last 100 years, and it has never worked.
It was used against Speaker John Boehner for the last time in 2015.
The vote to get rid of him failed, but it put enough pressure on Mr. Boehner that he resigned two months later when he couldn’t get his caucus to agree.
The last time it was used was in 1910.