What to Know in Washington: Gaetz Moves to Topple McCarthy

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Rep. Matt Gaetz officially moved to topple Speaker Kevin McCarthy yesterday evening, citing the GOP leader’s embrace of a bipartisan deal to avert a shutdown as provocation and teeing up a high-stakes vote likely to dramatically shift the balance of power in Washington whatever the outcome.

At least one other Republican dissident explicitly said he would join Gaetz (R-Fla.) and others indicated they were strongly considering doing so. As few as five ultra-conservatives could overthrow McCarthy (R-Calif.) if all Democrats support them.

Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) square off earlier this year during the speaker election.

“Bring it on,” McCarthy responded on X, formerly known as Twitter, moments after Gaetz stood in the well of the House, formally beginning the process.

McCarthy must call a vote within two legislative days. The speaker or his GOP allies are expected to seek a vote as soon as today on an effort to block the maneuver.

After speaking, Gaetz calmly folded his papers, and walked up the center aisle alone, to laughter and chatter from Democrats on one side of the chamber, and near silence of the few Republicans on the other side.

By next week, he told reporters, “either McCarthy is no longer the speaker or he serves at the pleasure of Democrats.”

Gaetz indicated he would be willing to support Majority Leader Steve Scalise (La.), who is currently being treated for a rare blood cancer, for the speaker’s job.

The move, officially called a motion to vacate the chair, is a parliamentary process that has not resulted in a speaker removal vote since 1910. Gaetz can be thwarted by a simple majority of House members present and voting. Democrats also could help quell the revolt by missing the vote or voting “present” — lowering the threshold McCarthy would need to prevail. Billy House and Erik Wasson have more reactions from lawmakers.


  • President Joe Biden has no public events scheduled today.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a briefing around 1:00 p.m. with NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby.


  • The House convenes at noon to consider the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill (H.R. 4394) and Legislative Branch (H.R. 4364) spending bills. (Read BGOV’s Legislative Branch Spending Bill Summary).
  • The Senate meets at 3:00 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of James C. O’Brien for assistant secretary of state.
  • For more details on the full agenda read BGOV’s Congress Tracker.

Also Happening on the Hill

LAPHONZA BUTLER, California’s incoming senator, has a rare political network that could bolster her fundraising if she decides to run for the seat next year. Butler’s corporate work for AirBnB and Uber and experience in union organizing and political strategy, including her most recent role leading Emily’s List, would give her access to party donors.

  • Even if she doesn’t run for the seat next year, her appointment to the Senate will boost her profile and could provide a launchpad for other elective office or high-level administration positions.
  • Butler will be sworn in at 3 p.m. today by Vice President Kamala Harris, whose presidential campaign she served as a senior adviser. Read more.

REP. HENRY CUELLAR was the victim of a carjacking in Washington, D.C. last night, according to his chief of staff, Jacob Hochberg, who added that he was not injured. The Texas Democrat had been parking his car when “three armed assailants” approached and stole the vehicle, Hochberg said in a statement. Read more.

SENS. MIKE CRAPO and CHUCK SCHUMER aim to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping when they lead a group of bipartisan lawmakers on a visit to China next week. Crapo (R-Idaho) and Schumer (D-N.Y.) will also raise the issue of Micron Technology’s ability to do business in the country, where the company faces an ongoing probe by the government’s cybersecurity administration. Read more.

People, Power, and Politics

Photo: SETH WENIG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Donald Trump attends court for a civil fraud case brought by state Attorney General Letitia James in New York City, on October 2, 2023.

DONALD TRUMP wanted to get higher on the Forbes billionaires list and save a fortune on loan terms by overvaluing his properties, according to evidence that a lawyer for New York Attorney General Letitia James previewed for a packed courtroom at the former president’s civil fraud trial. Read more.

  • Trump now has his eye on delaying fast-approaching deadlines in the federal criminal cases against him in Washington and Florida. Read more.

BIDEN’S reelection campaign is launching a new ad highlighting his efforts to lower consumer costs, ramping up its effort to reverse the president’s poor marks on the economy ahead of the 2024 election.

  • The minute-long spot cites caps on insulin prices for seniors, Medicare’s power to negotiate drug prices, clean-energy investments, and lower health care premiums as examples of how Biden has worked to ease Americans’ financial burdens. Read more.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ will go to trial on corruption charges May 6, a month before New Jersey’s Democratic primary. US District Judge Sidney Stein set an ambitious schedule for a case that will include a large volume of evidence, including potentially classified information. Read more.

What Else We’re Watching

Biden Administration Drops Fight Over Trump-Era Drug Price Rule

The Biden administration agreed to begin enforcing a Trump-era drug price transparency rule on the date it was supposed to go into effect, a move that follows a legal challenge brought by the conservative think tank Foundation for Government Accountability.

FDA Tests Power to Pull Fast-Tracked Drugs

The cancer drug Pepaxto got its blessing from regulators in 2021 based on a single study. Now, the FDA is testing the power of a new law to try to rescind the drug’s approval as the agency struggles to efficiently take fast-tracked, not fully proven treatments off the market.

Free Covid Tests Are Back. Expect New Fraud Schemes to Follow

With new Covid cases rising, the White House says it will again pay for free tests for families. That announcement also likely reopened the floodgates to fraud. Across the country, possibly hundreds of thousands of seniors also got Covid tests they never asked for, often charged to their Medicare accounts.

Illinois Governor Seeks More Fed Aid From Biden for Migrants

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is pushing Biden to send more money to help states that are caring for an increasing number of migrants from border states, a crisis the state leader calls “untenable.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeannie Baumann at jbaumann@bloombergindustry.com; Brandon Lee at blee@bgov.com

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