The no 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives on Monday said her caucus will meet and consider its options before deciding how to handle an imminent attempt by insurgent Republicans to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his post.
Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark, the House minority whip, said Democrats “come together as a family in the Democratic caucus to talk about whatever is presented to us” in the event that any member of the Republican conference files what is known as a “motion to vacate the chair” — a parliamentary manoeuvre that would trigger a vote on whether to retain Mr McCarthy as speaker of the House.
One GOP congressman, Rep Matt Gaetz of Florida, has signalled his intent to do just that, citing Mr McCarthy’s decision to allow the House to vote on a stopgap bill to keep the US government funded for 45 days.
Mr Gaetz and other far-right members of the GOP conference had warned that Mr McCarthy would put his job in jeopardy if he allowed any government funding bill to pass the House with support from any Democrats.
The speaker’s last-minute gambit to prevent a government shutdown angered far-right members who do not view Democrats as legitimate actors in the political process and want to force the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House to enact sweeping cuts to the federal budget.
Mr Gaetz told CNN on Sunday: “I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week. 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 that “the one thing” both Republicans and Democrats have in common is that “nobody trusts” Mr McCarthy.
“He lied to Biden, he lied to House conservatives. He had appropriators marking to a different number altogether. And the reason we were backed up against the shutdown politics is not a bug of the system. It’s a feature,” he said.
Ms Clark, who appeared on MSNBC early Monday, echoed Mr Gaetz’s sentiment about the GOP leader.
“The bad thing for Kevin McCarthy is that he is untrustworthy,” she said, citing Mr McCarthy’s decision to renege on an agreement he struck with Mr Biden to raise the government’s statutory debt limit.
“They made a deal, Kevin McCarthy signed that deal, 314 of us voted to approve it in a bipartisan way. The ink wasn’t dry before Kevin McCarthy was back to catering to the extremists,” she said. “That is what he does. Because his focus is about keeping his speakership and not about making progress for Americans at home”.