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Speaker Kevin McCarthy can’t count on Democrats to save his job.
House Democrats huddled privately this morning and afterwards, they said they had no immediate plans to save McCarthy from a right-wing rebellion. Rep. Matt Gaetz(R-Fla.) filed a motion last night to force a vote on ousting the speaker, which McCarthy has said will be later today.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries(D-NY.) said in an X posting after the session, the GOP needs to “find a way to end the House Republican Civil War.” According to a GOP aide close to Republican centrists, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, no Democrats have indicated they’d be willing to save McCarthy
With only a nine-seat majority, McCarthy can lose no more than five GOP voters on a motion to oust him —and there was some sense in recent days that he might be betting more moderate Democrats would cut a bipartisan deal to save him. McCarthy himself has said publicly of the vote to “bring it on” and denied he would need Democratic votes to keep the House gavel.
Democrats, though, have little interest in showing any support for him.
“The current speaker has chosen to cater to a very extreme element, that, in my view, it’s sort of a post-truth world and he is not trustworthy,” Rep. Annie Kuster(D-N.H.), who leads the center-left New Democrat Coalition, home to many of the party’s moderates. “And I think you can see that within his own caucus, but you can certainly see it in the way he’s treated us and the American people.”
Democrats seemed even more dug in across the party’s spectrum, after the Tuesday morning meeting.
“It’s pretty clear from the caucus meeting — the members want to vote yes because they realize the American people want a functioning House of Representatives,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), the progressive vice chair of the Democratic caucus, of the motion to vacate.
Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), who prides himself on his bipartisanship and represents a district won by Donald Trump in 2020, said he doesn’t plan to support McCarthy without “any significantly meaningful benefit for Maine’s Second District.”
“The GOP has control of the House and it is their responsibility to pick their leaders. That decision has nothing to do with me or with any Democrat,” he said in a statement. “But in the interest of answering inquiries to my office about whether or not I would support Kevin McCarthy: he’s not the leader I would choose – he doesn’t have the pulse of the people of Maine’s Second District.”
Gaetz meanwhile, has predicted that McCarthy may work with Democrats to remain speaker. If the ouster failed with Democrats supporting McCarthy, Gaetz said he would no longer be the “Republican speaker.”
“Kevin McCarthy believes in nothing,” Gaetz said shortly after filing the motion Monday night. “And when you believe in nothing, everything is negotiable.”
McCarthy insisted again this morning he’s not planning to offer concessions to Democrats in exchange for saving his job.
“At the end of the day, keeping the government open and paying our troops was the right decision,” McCarthy said, referring to a bipartisan spending measure over the weekend that averted a government shutdown. “At the end of the day, if I have to lose my job over it, so be it.”
Laura Litvan, Billy House, and Erik Wasson of Bloomberg News contributed