Gaetz expected to answer McCarthy’s motion-to-vacate dare

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) announced over the weekend that he will force a vote on ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from his post this week, following through on threats Gaetz has levied in recent weeks and answering a dare McCarthy himself made recently.

Gaetz announced his plans to bring a motion to vacate against McCarthy one day after the Speaker worked with Democrats to pass a continuing resolution and keep the government open, a reality the Florida Republican had been warning against for weeks.

Following the vote, McCarthy dared his detractors to make the motion — “If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it “ — putting the ball in Gaetz’s court and prompting the Florida lawmaker to put his money where his mouth is after weeks of repeated threats and heightened rhetoric. Gaetz can bring the motion as early as Monday.

Also this week, the House will continue consideration of full-year appropriations bills as Congress stares down the next funding deadline, Nov. 17. And the focus will be on funding for Ukraine after the stopgap bill over the weekend excluded money for the embattled nation.

In the Senate, all eyes are on Emily’s List President Laphonza Butler after California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed her to fill the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) seat.

Gaetz to bring motion to vacate against McCarthy

Gaetz over the weekend announced plans to bring a motion to vacate against McCarthy this week, following through on his threats after McCarthy teamed up with Democrats to fund the government and avert a shutdown.

The vow marked a significant moment in the acrimonious relationship between McCarthy and Gaetz, which came into sharp focus during the January Speaker’s race and grew more bitter amid the September spending fight.

“I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week,” Gaetz said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

“I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy,” he added.

McCarthy, for his part, said he is confident he will make it through the effort against him, telling CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, “I’ll survive.”

“That’s nothing new,” he added of Gaetz’s threat to bring the motion. “He’s tried to do that. From the moment I ran for the office.”

Gaetz warned in recent weeks that he would force a vote on ousting McCarthy as Speaker if the Californian put a continuing resolution on the floor or worked with Democrats to pass a stopgap funding measure — both of which occurred on Saturday. Asked about those threats after the vote, McCarthy dared his detractors to take him on.

“If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it,” McCarthy said Saturday. “There has to be an adult in the room.”

Gaetz can bring a motion to vacate against McCarthy as soon as Monday, when the House reconvenes. Leadership would then have to set a vote on the matter within two legislative days. The House could, however, vote to table the measure or refer it to a committee, both procedural votes that would prevent the chamber from having to weigh in directly.

At least one Republican, Rep. Eli Crane (Ariz.), appears to be backing the effort to oust McCarthy. He wrote “Let’s roll!” on X in response to Gaetz’s announcement. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ill.) told “All INdiana Politics” that she is “open-minded” about the motion to vacate threat.

McCarthy’s fate will largely rest in the hands of Democrats. If Democrats vote to table the resolution, or vote against the motion, McCarthy could keep his job. But if Democrats decide to oust McCarthy, and enough Republicans follow suit, the California Republican could lose the Speaker’s gavel.

Democratic leadership has not indicated how the caucus would act if a motion to vacate were brought against McCarthy, brushing questions aside as hypotheticals. But on Sunday, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) told colleagues in a letter that the caucus would discuss how to proceed if the motion is brought to the floor.

“If this occurs, we will have a Caucus wide discussion on how to address the motion to best meet the needs of the American people,” Clark wrote in the letter.

At least one Democrat, however, would be willing to boot McCarthy from the top job. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Sunday said she would “absolutely” vote for a motion to vacate, but also said it is up to Republican leadership to work through their own issues and suggested that a negotiation could take place to save him.

House moves ahead with full-year spending bills

The House this week is slated to consider two more full-year spending bills as the chamber looks to complete its part of the appropriations process — a key demand of hardline Republicans.

Lawmakers will take up a bill funding Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies in addition to a measure for the legislative branch.

Consideration of the legislation comes after Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution over the weekend that averted a shutdown and will keep the government funding at current levels until Nov. 17. A total of 90 Republicans opposed the measure, a number of whom said they would prefer to see Congress pass individual appropriations bills and fund the government through regular order.

During a closed-door meeting hours before the House voted on the stopgap on Saturday, GOP leadership presented the conference with a schedule to consider the rest of the 12 appropriations bills throughout October. The House has passed four full-year spending bills thus far, while the Senate has cleared none.

Focus on Ukraine aid

The question of whether or not Congress will approve more aid to Ukraine will be top of mind this week, after a last-minute move to fund the government over the weekend excluded funding for Kyiv.

The top four Democrats in the House said they expect McCarthy to bring a bill “that supports Ukraine” to the floor when the chamber returns, but did not specify when exactly that would happen.

“When the House returns, we expect Speaker McCarthy to advance a bill to the House Floor for an up-or-down vote that supports Ukraine, consistent with his commitment to making sure that Vladimir Putin, Russia and authoritarianism are defeated. We must stand with the Ukrainian people until victory is won,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) wrote in a statement Saturday night.

Both chambers cleared a short-term continuing resolution Saturday to fund the government at current levels through Nov. 17 and provide $16 billion in disaster relief. Notably, however, the legislation — which McCarthy rolled out Saturday morning — did not include Ukraine aid, even though the Senate’s stopgap bill included roughly $6 billion for Kyiv and the White House asked for more money for the embattled ally in its supplemental request.

Support for Kyiv has become a hot-button issue within the House GOP conference since Russia invaded Ukraine, with some Republican lawmakers calling for curtailing assistance to the besieged country. Support for Ukraine, nonetheless, remains strong in the House — the chamber voted 311-117 to approve $300 million in new aid for Kyiv.

McCarthy’s decision to leave Ukraine aid on the cutting room floor was criticized by members in both parties and chambers. Following the Senate vote, leaders in the chamber said they expect to continue to work toward support for Ukraine “in the coming weeks.”

“This agreement leaves a number of urgent priorities outstanding. In the coming weeks, we expect the Senate will work to ensure the U.S. government continues to provide critical and sustained security and economic support for Ukraine,” Senate leaders wrote.

Newsom announces Feinstein replacement

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced overnight that he has chosen Emily’s List President Laphonza Butler to succeed the late Sen. DIanne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in the Senate.

“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she’ll represent us proudly in the United States Senate,” Newsom wrote in a statement.

“As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault. Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.,” he added.

Newsom’s pick fulfills his vow the governor made in 2021 that he would name a Black woman to the Senate if Feinstein were to retire. Butler will also become the first out gay person to represent California in the U.S. Capitol’s upper chamber.

News outlets also reported that Newsom’s pick will be able to run for a full term in 2024, a notable development after the governor in September said he would not appoint anyone to the seat who was running to succeed Feinstein in 2024. He said at the time that his pick would be an “interim appointment” because he did not want to get involved in the primary currently underway for Feinstein’s seat.

Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) are all running for Feinstein’s seat, vying for the Democratic nomination to be on the ballot in 2024.

“If that person decides she wants to seek a full term in 2024, then she is free to do so. There is absolutely no litmus test, no promise,” Newsom spokesman Anthony York told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday.

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