Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy: “Do not be fearful of a motion to vacate”


Washington — Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who last year was the first speaker in history to be ousted from his post, suggested on Sunday that a motion to vacate the current speaker is unlikely.

“Do not be fearful of a motion to vacate,” McCarthy said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I do not think they could do it again.”

As Congress voted to approve a spending package in recent days, bringing to an end a monthslong fight over funding the government that began when McCarthy was speaker, a new threat to oust his replacement has emerged. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, filed a motion to vacate, teasing a possible vote to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson. 

But McCarthy, who represented California’s 20th district until he resigned from Congress late last year after losing the gavel, said he doesn’t believe a motion will come up or that Democrats will go along with it.

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Kevin McCarthy on “Face the Nation,” March 24, 2024.

CBS News


“We’re close to the election. We’ve watched what transpired the last time you went three weeks without Congress being able to act,” McCarthy said. “You can’t do anything if you don’t have a speaker. I think we’ve moved past that.”

McCarthy said the conference should instead focus on the country and the job they have to do, telling them to “just move forward” while making clear that Johnson “is doing the very best job he can.”

Upon the House’s return from a two-week recess, the chamber could consider the measure, which a group of conservatives used to oust McCarthy last year due to similar frustrations with his handling of government funding. 

Greene called the move a warning to Johnson after he brought the funding package to the floor without the customary 72-hour waiting period. The Georgia Republican bashed the spending agreement, claiming that Johnson had given away his negotiating power to Democrats. Ultimately, most House Republicans opposed the spending bill, as Democrats propelled it to passage.

But it remains unclear whether there’s enough political will among the House GOP conference to oust and replace another speaker. House Republicans struggled for weeks to coalesce behind a new speaker after McCarthy was removed last year. And Johnson’s ascension came after three previous candidates failed to gain the necessary support. 

Things have grown even more difficult for the conference since McCarthy’s departure, as the majority in the chamber has gradually shrunk. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, announced on Friday he will step down in April, shrinking the already-thin Republican majority in the House to a one-seat majority from a five-seat majority six months ago. 

Still, McCarthy projected confidence that House Republicans can continue to govern. 

“You have the majority,” McCarthy said. “You can still govern and use that power to do exactly that.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who also appeared on “Face the Nation” seemed to agree, saying that the House needs to remain focused on governing, rather than descending into another dispute over its speaker. 

“We don’t need dysfunction right now,” McCaul said Sunday. “And with the world on fire the way it is, we need to govern and that is not just Republicans but in a bipartisan way.”



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