U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy before the impeachment vote, Oct. 3, 2023/Reuters
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces a possible impeachment on Tuesday, led by one of his party's most extreme wings in protest of understandings he reached with Democrats last week that prevented a government shutdown. The chaos in Congress is also affecting the international arena, given disagreements over the delivery of additional aid to Ukraine, which was not included in the interim budget that expires in the middle of next month.
Republicans have a slim majority in the House, and since the Democratic caucus has announced that it will not support McCarthy, a few votes are enough to bring about an unprecedented impeachment of the Speaker by members of his own party. "I'm convinced I'm going to hold on," McCarthy told reporters before the vote.
Even if McCarthy survives the impeachment vote against him, promoted by his fellow party member and sworn rival Matt Gates, the latter could theoretically initiate another vote. Gates, a prominent supporter of former president Donald Trump, the front-runner ahead of next year's election, is one of a group of about 20 radical Republicans who have opposed any compromise with Democrats in federal budget debates.
U.S. Representative Matt Gates at the Capitol, October 3, 2023/Reuters
Several Republican lawmakers said they were staying with McCarthy after they walked out of a closed-door meeting in which they said he received a round of applause. "I don't think there's any doubt that there's only one person willing to lead our party. That's understood by over 95 percent of the members," said Republican Representative Darrell Issa. Gates did not speak to reporters after the meeting.
Republicans have a slim 221-212 majority, so only five of them would support McCarthy's impeachment, assuming all Democrats voted against him. Their leader in the House, Hakeem Jeffries, recommended that they vote to remove McCarthy from office.
"Given their unwillingness to genuinely and comprehensively disengage from MAGA extremism, House Democratic leadership will vote in favor," he said in a letter to his Democratic colleagues.
President Joe Biden's party sees McCarthy as untrustworthy after he broke budget agreements with him. They are also furious at his capitulation to pressure from the right wing of the party to open an impeachment inquiry against the president.
"I think Kevin McCarthy is a man without shame or principles," said Gary Connolly, a Democrat.
Administration officials told Reuters that the White House was in no hurry to support McCarthy, who said he did not expect Democratic support for him to remain in office.
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