This is a key sticking point for some Republicans voting against McCarthy for speaker


The ability of a single House member to motion to “vacate the chair” — or to bring to the floor a vote of no confidence in the speaker — is a key sticking point for some of the Repubicans voting against House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to be speaker. And it’s one of the reasons, among others, why McCarthy has so far failed in every round of voting for speaker on the House floor. 

Some of the most conservative members of the Republican conference gave McCarthy a list of demands that included as a key condition allowing a single member to bring such a vote to the floor. McCarthy countered with a proposed rule that would allow a motion to “vacate the chair” with the support of five members, rather than one. That didn’t satisfy some of the most conservative members of his caucus, including Reps. Scott Perry and Byron Donalds, both of whom have voted against him on every ballot.

Donalds has for several rounds been the alternate nominee for speaker put forward by the most conservative members of the Republican conference. 

In their open letter, Perry and eight other Republicans said McCarthy’s rules proposal “continues to propose to restrict the availability of the traditional motion to vacate the chair as a means of holding leadership accountable to its promises.”

The demand by the holdouts would restore the House rules on vacating the chair to what they previously were before Rep. Nancy Pelosi was elected speaker in 2019. Under Pelosi, a motion to vacate could be offered on the House floor only if a majority of either party agreed to it. Before that rules change, a single member could move for a vote to unseat the speaker.

In 2015, GOP Rep. Mark Meadows filed a motion to vacate against Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who resigned as speaker and from Congress before a vote was held. 

The rules package from the incoming House GOP majority also ends proxy voting and remote committee proceedings, as well as fines for members who don’t wear masks. It also creates a select subcommittee on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government to investigate the Biden administration’s assault on the constitutional rights of American citizens.” 

It’s unclear how many rounds of votes the House will hld on Wednesday, since McCarthy’s detractors remain  unmoved. So far on Wednesday, McCarthy has lost 21 Republicans who either voted for Donalds or voted “present.” 

But McCarthy’s detractors don’t all have the same demands, and McCarthy has already used many of his negotiating tools with them. 

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, said the fifth round of voting was the final time he could guarantee his support for McCarthy. “Stay tuned,” he said on CNN. It’s possible other Republicans could follow suit. Buck projected that after two or three more rounds, another pick for speaker could be inevitable. 

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