UPDATE: Kevin McCarthy‘s future as House speaker was in peril as enough Republicans joined with Democrats on a vote that clears the way for a roll call later on Tuesday to oust him.
A vote to table GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz‘s resolution to remove McCarthy was rejected 218-208. Eleven Republicans joined with all Democrats, raising the prospect that McCarthy will come up short in trying to remain in the post.
McCarthy chatted with other members as the vote to table was cast. At times, he was standing just a few feet away from Gaetz, who has been his nemesis, but they did not chat.
The vote on removing McCarthy will take place around 4 p.m. ET, and will be by manual roll call.
Before then, backers of McCarthy are speaking on one side of the chamber, while his GOP opponents, led by Gaetz, are at a lectern on the opposite side of the aisle. Democrats just watched.
PREVIOUSLY: Nearly 10 months since a marathon series of votes to make him speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday faces losing his job.
The House was poised to vote on a motion to vacate, filed by McCarthy’s nemesis from the right, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). The vote, expected to take place at about 1:30 p.m. ET, threatened to revive the spectable of January, when McCarthy endured through 15 votes before winning the speakership.
It was unclear whether McCarthy had the votes to table Gaetz’s effort, as the Florida congressman needs only a handful of lawmakers on his side given the GOP’s slim four-vote majority. Some Democrats could vote to help McCarthy, but House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a letter to the caucus that party leadership would back the speaker’s ouster.
On the Hill, reporters filled seats in the media gallery, and other staked out McCarthy’s office, while tourists waited in Statuary Hall with their camera phones. News networks got an extra dose of midday drama with the vote, one of the few times that a roll call has a genuinely suspenseful outcome. Democrats appeared to try to delay an earlier vote, ostensibly to give some of their members more time to make it to the floor. McCarthy needs a majority of members present to survive.
Gaetz is filing the motion after McCarthy advanced a resolution on Saturday to fund the government for the next 45 days. McCarthy ultimately had to rely on Democratic votes for passage, and Gaetz has claimed that the speaker made a deal with President Joe Biden to also bring forward a measure for further assistance to Ukraine. “Clearly someone has been lied to,” Gaetz told reporters. He sat alone in the chamber, reading from his cell phone, in the half hour before the vote.
McCarthy, who has said that he did not speak to Biden, predicted that he would survive.
“If I counted how many times someone wanted to knock me out, I would have been gone a long time ago,” McCarthy told reporters after a meeting with the House Republican conference.
He added, “I think Matt has planned this for a long time. It didn’t matter what transpired.”
McCarthy also said he had not made a deal with Democrats to save his speakership.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said that “we encourage our Republican colleagues who claim to be traditional to break from the extremists, to end the chaos, end the dysfunction. … We are ready, willing and able to work with our Republican colleagues. But it is on them to join us to move the Congress and the country forward.”