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The Uncertain Future of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House: Potential Ousting Looms

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The future of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House is in question as he faces a potential ousting from his position. McCarthy's decision to fold on the shutdown fight and work with Democrats to fund the government has angered hard-line Republicans, including Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, who has threatened to depose McCarthy. Gaetz announced on CNN's “State of the Union” that he will try to remove McCarthy as speaker this week. However, the process to remove McCarthy is challenging, as Gaetz would need the majority of the House to support his effort.

McCarthy's leadership has been under scrutiny since January when Gaetz and other right-wing Republicans refused to vote for McCarthy unless he made major concessions.[0] This included restoring the ability of any one member to call for McCarthy's removal. Now, McCarthy must navigate the challenge of retaining support from both moderate Republicans and Democrats if Gaetz's motion to vacate moves forward.

The support of moderate Democrats is crucial in determining McCarthy's fate. If just a handful of moderate Democrats vote “present” or choose to “table” the effort, McCarthy's critics would struggle to succeed. However, Democrats have expressed that their support is not guaranteed and that McCarthy would need to formally ask for their help.[1] Moderate Democrats have indicated that they would be more willing to support McCarthy if he promises to run the House in a more bipartisan manner.

While Democrats voted to avoid a government shutdown and default earlier this year, they may not be willing to save McCarthy's speakership. None of them voted for McCarthy during the 15 rounds it took for him to secure the position.[2] Gaetz's motion to vacate highlights the ongoing power struggle within the Republican Party and distracts from the work of passing a long-term funding deal and negotiating aid to Ukraine.

The possibility of McCarthy being ousted has led to speculation about potential replacements. Some Freedom Caucus members have stated that no one besides McCarthy can gather enough votes to become speaker.[3] However, other names, such as Majority Whip Tom Emmer, have been floated as potential replacements.[0]

McCarthy remains confident in his ability to retain his position. He has called Gaetz's threats “nothing new” and stated that he will survive the challenge.[4] McCarthy believes that Gaetz is upset because he prevented a government shutdown and accuses Gaetz of being more interested in securing TV interviews than accomplishing anything.[4]

The upcoming drama surrounding McCarthy's speakership raises two key questions. The first is how many Republicans Gaetz can rally to his cause.[5] It may be relatively easy for Gaetz to gather a group of hardcore Republicans who are willing to put McCarthy's position at risk.[5] However, McCarthy's power and the potential involvement of outside political action committees could make joining Gaetz's cause risky for some Republicans. McCarthy has the ability to reward allies and punish enemies, which could impact primary elections.[5]

The second question is how Democrats will respond.[5] Gaetz would need the support of Democrats to achieve a simple majority in his motion to vacate McCarthy. However, McCarthy's lack of trust among Democrats and their dissatisfaction with his last-minute decision to pass a funding bill that punts on Ukraine aid could impact their decision to support him.[6] Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has already expressed her support for Gaetz's efforts to remove McCarthy.[7]

The outcome of McCarthy's potential ousting remains uncertain. McCarthy's fate lies in the hands of both Republicans and Democrats, and their decisions will shape the future leadership of the House.[1] The ongoing power struggle within the Republican Party and the impact on government funding and aid to Ukraine adds complexity to the situation. Only time will tell if McCarthy will be able to retain his position as Speaker of the House.

0. “Congress just avoided a shutdown. Kevin McCarthy's fight is just beginning.”, 1 Oct. 2023,

1. “Matt Gaetz says he’ll try to oust Kevin McCarthy as House speaker” The Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2023,

2. “Congress averts government shutdown. Will it cost Speaker Kevin McCarthy his gavel?” Sacramento Bee, 30 Sep. 2023,

3. “Conservatives plot who could replace McCarthy as ouster talks heat up – POLITICO” POLITICO, 29 Sep. 2023,

4. “McCarthy Shrugs Off Gaetz’s Threat To Oust Him As House Speaker: ‘Bring It On’” Forbes, 1 Oct. 2023,

5. “Kevin McCarthy Traded Shutdown Crisis For a Leadership One” New York Magazine, 1 Oct. 2023,

6. “Democrats weigh McCarthy’s fate as GOP moderates float rules changes to save speaker” CNN, 2 Oct. 2023,

7. “AOC Says She Would ‘Absolutely’ Vote to Oust ‘Very Weak’ Speaker McCarthy” Rolling Stone, 1 Oct. 2023,

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