WASHINGTON — Conservative hardliner Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., announced Sunday he will attempt to eject House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from his post this week.
In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Gaetz said he will file what is known as a motion to vacate against McCarthy this week, a push to remove him from his leadership position.
"I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid," Gaetz said. "I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy."
The move represents an intense escalation of House conservatives' hostility towards McCarthy. Gaetz' commitment comes after the speaker relied on Democrats to pass a short-term, stopgap spending measure – referred to as a continuing resolution – to keep the government open and avert a shutdown on Saturday.
Gaetz has repeatedly threatened to file a motion to vacate if McCarthy ever reached across the other side of the aisle to pass a continuing resolution. Instead, Gaetz pushed for GOP leadership to pass the 12 appropriation bills necessary to fund the government long term, even if it meant leading the country to a government shutdown.
"We have to move to single-subject spending bills," Gaetz said. "That's why we now have to move to vacate because we have to get a system where the House and Senate will negotiate over each of these agencies of government independently.
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Reacting to Gaetz' promise to oust him from the speakership, McCarthy brushed off the Florida conservative's threats and openly welcomed the challenge in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
"That's nothing new. He's tried to do that from the moment I ran for office," McCarthy said. "I'll survive. This is personal with Matt."
McCarthy accused Gaetz of having no interest in governing and criticized him for voting against a party-line GOP short-term measure that was far more conservative than the spending deal that passed Saturday. The GOP version ultimately failed in the House due to Gaetz' and other conservative hardliners' opposition.
"Matt voted against the most conservative ability to protect our border, secure our border. He's more interested in securing TV interviews than doing something. He wanted to push us into a shutdown, even threatening his own district with all of the military people there who would not be paid only because he wants to take this motion," McCarthy said. "So be it. Bring it on. Let's get over with it and let's start governing."
"If he's upset because he tried to push us in a shutdown and I made sure government didn't shut down, then let's have that fight," the speaker added.
House Republicans were consumed by turmoil in recent weeks over infighting between moderate GOP lawmakers and a handful of hard-right lawmakers who have refused to entertain anything short of their demands for deep spending cuts that had no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Matt Gaetz says he will attempt to boot McCarthy from speakership