Gaetz brushes off McCarthy impeachment inquiry announcement as ‘baby step’
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is brushing off Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) announcement of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden as a “baby step,” warning he would try to force a vote on ousting the Speaker from his post if he does not meet a number of demands.
In a fiery speech on the House floor an hour after McCarthy’s announcement, Gaetz — who is known to spar with the Speaker — called the Speaker’s remarks a “rushed” and “rattled performance,” adding that it “isn’t real.”
“Moments ago, Speaker McCarthy endorsed an impeachment inquiry. This is a baby step following weeks of pressure from House conservatives to do more. We must move faster,” Gaetz said on the House floor.
Gaetz has been a vocal advocate for impeaching Biden, going so far as to threaten forcing votes on ousting Biden administration officials. In an interview with conservative radio host Todd Starnes last week, Gaetz warned McCarthy that he would force a vote on ousting the Speaker if he “stands in our way” on impeachment.
But the Florida Republican amped up that criticism Tuesday, laying out a number of demands for McCarthy — and threatening to bring a motion to vacate the chair if he does not comply.
“I rise today to serve notice: Mr. Speaker, you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role,” Gaetz said in his floor speech. “The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate, total compliance or remove you pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair.”
McCarthy, for his part, brushed off Gaetz’s threat on Monday, telling reporters he was “not at all” worried.
“Matt’s Matt,” he added.
McCarthy dismissed Gaetz’s comments again on Tuesday, referencing his apparent belief that Gaetz wants McCarthy to intervene in a open House Ethics Committee investigation into the Florida congressman.
“He can threaten all he wants. I will not interject the Speaker into the independent ethics committee to influence it any way at all,” McCarthy told reporters.
The threat of a motion to vacate has loomed over McCarthy since his drawn-out election in January, when he agreed to lower the threshold to make such a motion from five members to one member in order to sway the Republican holdouts.
Gaetz on Tuesday said the House has not yet voted on term limits for members of Congress or for balanced budgets; he pointed out that all security footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol have not been released; he argued that there has been “insufficient accountability for the Biden crime family;” and he accused leadership of relying on a budgetary gimmick known as “recissions” during negotiations to raise the debt limit.
“Mr. Speaker, dust off our written January agreement. You have a copy. Reflect on the spirit of that agreement and build on the start that we had moments ago, begin to comply,” he said. “No continuing resolutions, individual spending bills or bust, votes on balanced budgets and term limits, subpoenas for Hunter Biden and members of the Biden family who have been grifting off of this country and the impeachment for Joe Biden that he so richly deserves.”
“Do these things or race a motion to vacate the chair,” he added.
Gaetz noted that “a motion to vacate might not pass at first” but he said “it might before the 15th vote” — a suggestion that he could force multiple votes on ousting the Speaker, and an apparent reference to the 15 rounds of voting it took McCarthy to win the gavel earlier this year.
In a press call after his floor speech, Gaetz said that he is open to starting “every single day in Congress with the prayer, the pledge and the motion to vacate, so be it.“
Gaetz on the press call warned against McCarthy bringing up a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government.
“If Kevin McCarthy puts a continuing resolution on the floor, it’s going to be shot, chaser; continuing resolution, motion to vacate,” Gaetz said.
He added that “exact compliance” with the House Freedom Caucus request for policy conditions on the border, the Department of Justice, and “woke” programs in the Pentagon would be “unlikely to trigger a motion to vacate,” but noted a number of other commitments he is looking for from McCarthy on the budget and beyond.
Updated at 2:48 p.m.