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POLITICS

The ‘motion to vacate’ explained: How the House can oust Kevin McCarthy

Republican representatives are tabling a bill to remove their own speaker after he got the support of Democrats to pass the emergency funding bill.

Update:
Republican representatives are tabling a bill to remove their own speaker after he got the support of Democrats to pass the emergency funding bill.
JONATHAN ERNSTREUTERS

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is immediately on the defensive after the passing of the 45-day emergency funding bill. While staving off a disastrous government shutdown until the holiday season, House Republicans are furious that McCarthy used Democrat votes instead of bending the knee to the extreme right-wing.

If at this time next week Kevin McCarthy is still speaker of the House, it will be because Democrats bailed him out,” Rep. Matt Gaetz said in an interview on ABC.

“I am relentless and I will continue to pursue this objective.”

Gaetz and his cadre were the most forceful of Republican representatives that forced McCarthy’s acession to top job. In their demands they forced a rule change that allows any one House member to call for a vote to oust the speaker. With the razor-thin Republican majority of nine seats, support from Democrats would allow Gaetz to remove McCarthy.

Usually, the procedure is used by members of the minority party to try to remove the speaker from the majority party. It was evidenced how difficult it was to get McCarthy in to the post and it will be an arduous process to find a replacement if he is booted out.

How would this work?

Any member of the House can introduce a “motion to vacate the chair.” This motion is typically used as a means to challenge the current Speaker of the House, but it can also be used to target other leadership positions, such as the Majority Leader.

The motion can be introduced at any time when the House is in session, and it takes precedence over other business. This means that it can interrupt regular legislative proceedings and become the primary focus of the House. Once the motion is introduced, it must be brought to a vote. A majority of the House members present and voting must support the motion for it to pass.

If the motion to vacate the chair is successful, the Speaker is removed from their position immediately, and a new election is held to choose a replacement. This process can be chaotic and will lead to significant disruptions within the House as no legislation can be passed without a speaker.