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Friday, December 8, 2023

White House will stay out of looming fight over McCarthy’s Speakership

The White House on Monday said it had no intention to wade into the looming fight over whether Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) should retain the gavel.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that it would be left to House Democratic leadership to determine whether Democrats would join with Republicans to save McCarthy if there is a motion to remove him from the Speaker’s chair.

“That’s something for House Republicans to figure out. What the president’s going to continue to do is deliver for the American people,” Jean-Pierre said. 

“While [Republicans] are clearly showing chaos and not able to do that, deliver for the American people, he’s going to focus on growing the economy … that’s their decision to make,” she added. “That’s for Democratic leadership and House Democrats to figure out.”

Jean-Pierre’s comments echoed those made a day earlier by President Biden, who said he would “leave that to the leadership of the House and the Senate.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) announced over the weekend that he would force a vote on ousting McCarthy, following through on threats Gaetz has levied in recent weeks and answering a dare McCarthy himself made recently.

On Monday, Gaetz teased his plans to bring a motion to vacate against McCarthy. He did so 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.

It takes only one lawmaker to call for a motion to vacate in order to bring such an action up for a full House vote as part of a deal McCarthy struck with conservatives to secure the gavel earlier this year. 

But it would require a majority of lawmakers in the House to oust McCarthy, raising the likelihood that some Democrats would have to back the California Republican in order for him to keep his position.

Gaetz focused his speech Monday on what he alleged was a “secret side deal” between McCarthy and President Biden about approving Ukraine funding in the future. The “clean” stopgap funding bill Congress approved just hours before a Saturday shutdown deadline did not include the White House’s requested boost to Ukraine aid by billions.

Biden on Sunday told reporters he and McCarthy had “just made” a deal about Ukraine, but provided no details. Jean-Pierre on Monday would not elaborate on whether the two leaders had reached some kind of agreement about bringing up Ukraine funding for a vote, but she instead pointed to the large bipartisan support for Ukraine aid in Congress.

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