During an appearance on CNN Sunday, Gaetz accused McCarthy of engaging in a “brazen, repeated, material breach” of an agreement he struck with House conservatives to become speaker in January.
The Florida congressman said he would file a motion to vacate the chair sometime this week in a bid to topple McCarthy.
When journalist Jake Tapper noted 218 lawmakers would need to vote for the motion, Gaetz predicted there would be enough votes for the move to succeed unless Democrats provide votes to help save the California Republican.
“If Kevin McCarthy is still the Speaker of the House, he will be serving at the pleasure of the Democrats. He will be working for the Democrats,” Gaetz said.
He added, “The only way Kevin McCarthy is Speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out. Now, they probably will, I actually think that when you believe in nothing as Kevin McCarthy does, everything’s negotiable. And I think he’ll cut a deal with the Democrats.”
Tapper then noted Gaetz would need some Democrats to vote against McCarthy. However, the congressman argued he would not have to make a deal with Democrats and that they should “vote against Speaker McCarthy for free.”
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The exchange comes after McCarthy helped avoid a government shutdown by advancing a short-term spending bill that relied on Democratic votes to pass.
The Wall Street Journal noted in an op-ed McCarthy had proposed a spending bill that “wouldn’t have passed the Senate,” but argued it would have given “the House leverage in conference.”
However, the op-ed pointed out that conservative members rejected that spending bill, which included funding for border security and a commission on the federal debt. It also included a reduction in spending.
After that proposal failed to gain enough support from Republicans, McCarthy moved forward with the short-term spending bill that passed with the help of Democrats.
Punchbowl News reported there could be as many as 20 Democrats who vote against McCarthy once the motion to vacate is brought to the floor. However, it noted that 20 Democrats might vote in favor of him retaining the speaker’s gavel.
It added if McCarthy convinces Democrats to support him, Gaetz would likely use that he could be bought off by the minority party.