What to Know in Washington: Far-Right Aims to Leverage McCarthy

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Far-right House members threatening to use a centuries-old procedure to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy appear more likely to succeed in gaining leverage in spending talks than in ousting the Republican leader.

The next couple of weeks could reveal the effectiveness of their sword of Damocles approach as funding talks and fears of a government shutdown reach a fever pitch ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline.

Dissident Republicans have repeatedly warned they might try to oust McCarthy (R-Calif.) if he doesn’t push for deep cuts, while skeptics are questioning whether the threat of a “motion to vacate” is more of a bluff than anything.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg
McCarthy speaks to members of the media in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

“The reason it’s very rarely done is that if you take a shot at the king, you better kill him,” said John Feehery, a political strategist who worked for Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert for several years.

McCarthy won the speakership in January after 15 votes, which required a number of agreements with the farthest-right members of his party. One change from the previous Congress allows just one member to bring to the floor a privileged resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of speaker — meaning someone like Gaetz could spur a House vote on whether to remove McCarthy from his post.

“Mr. Speaker, you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on the House floor last week, citing a lack of subpoenas against Hunter Biden and other complaints. “The path forward for the House of Representatives is either to bring you to immediate, total compliance, or remove you, pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair.”

Gaetz hasn’t brought the motion to the floor, though, and lawmakers are openly questioning whether it would even matter if he did. McCarthy himself said Gaetz should “go ahead and do it,” projecting a lack of concern about his job security.

“I don’t think that Gaetz has the votes, and I think the sooner that he calls that bluff the better off,” said Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), chair of the center-left New Democrat Coalition. Read more from Maeve Sheehey.


  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris discuss gun safety at the White House shortly before 3 p.m.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre gives a press briefing at 1:30 p.m. alongside Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.).


Federal Shutdown Looms

MCCARTHY’S latest plan to avert a government shutdown was ambushed yesterday by a pair of ultraconservatives. Hours later, he sent lawmakers home until Tuesday, a decision that leaves little time to negotiate with Senate Democrats and increases the risk of a shutdown. Read more.

  • Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) says he is demanding a vote on a continuing resolution next week. If there is no vote, Lawler tells reporters he will use a discharge petition, which could allow a bill to be brought to the floor over McCarthy’s objections. Read more.

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE members plan to mark up their Commerce-Justice-Science and Labor-HHS-Education spending bills soon, in response to conservatives’ push for votes on more spending cuts. Read more.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS are pushing their colleagues to provide tax relief for Americans recovering from hurricanes, wildfires, and the Ohio train derailment. While the IRS allowed many taxpayers impacted by disasters to delay filing their tax returns until Oct. 15, that deadline is fast approaching and Congress doesn’t have plans to take up the bills before the end of the year. Read more.

  • Additionally, senators on both sides of the aisle are raising concerns that a shutdown would snarl US-Mexico border operations as the Department of Homeland Security deals with an increase in migrant arrivals. Read more.
  • A shutdown would also imperil efforts to protect people from lead and cancer-causing chemicals, White House National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi told Bloomberg News yesterday. Read more.

Around the Administration

THE CHIPS PROGRAM OFFICE, which is preparing to give out $39 billion in grants and $75 billion in loans and loan guarantees, announced today it will bar firms that win that money from substantially growing their output or expanding their physical manufacturing space in China. They will be limited to a 5% increase for advanced chips and 10% for older technology of 28 nanometers or more mature. Read more.

JULIE SU can serve indefinitely as acting head of the Labor Department, despite months of accusations from Republicans that her status as the temporary leader of the agency is unconstitutional, the Government Accountability Office concluded. Read more.

THE HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT is expanding the number of Afghans eligible for temporary protected status, shielding them from deportation and allowing them to seek work permits. Now, 14,600 additional Afghans who arrived in the US between March 15, 2022 and September 20, 2023 will be eligible for the protections, which will be extended to May 2025. Read more.

What Else We’re Watching

Former Hedge-Fund CEO McCormick Reprises Swing-State Race

David McCormick, former CEO of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, launched a Senate bid in Pennsylvania yesterday, thrilling national Republicans who see him as their best chance to flip a crucial swing seat. McCormick, 58, immediately became the GOP favorite to challenge incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D) in what’s likely to be one of the country’s most expensive and hotly contested Senate races.

Financial Titans Gear Up to Fight ‘Too-Big-to-Fail’ Label Threat

Financial titans are preparing to do battle with the Biden administration over a plan to make it easier for Washington to deem companies too-big-to-fail, a tag that would spell greater oversight and fresh compliance headaches.

Analysis: The Big 3–UAW Pay Raise Will Make History

No matter what wage increase the negotiators for the United Auto Workers and Big 3 automakers ultimately agree upon, the scope of that pay raise will likely tower over the pay structure that the parties have been building for decades.

Why Can’t Americans Buy Cheap Chinese EVs?

EV variety is easy to find outside the US. Where American drivers now have about 50 electric cars to choose from, Europe’s array is almost double that, and China’s nearly triple. For US automakers, this is mainly a profitability problem. To pay for investments in electrification, carmakers are first focusing on trucks, SUVs, and other premium models — the very tension at the center of the UAW strike.

To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Jeannie Baumann in Washington at jbaumann@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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