At present (January 6th 2023) Kevin McCarthy is trying to be elected as Speaker of the House. As there is a majority of Republicans in the new house, you might expect this to be straightforward, but there are twenty Republican members who consider him "too moderate" and have voted for other candidates or abstained. Since he needs a majority of the votes to be elected, and those twenty hard-liners are more votes than the Republican majority, he has gone through eleven votes so far without success.

If he were elected, how easy would it be to remove him later?


1 Answer 1


ABC News have published a good article on this.

The term for this action is a "motion to vacate the chair." Under the Republican Party's current rules, a majority of Republican representatives are required to submit this kind of motion to the House. A majority vote of the House will then remove the Speaker. That seems quite reasonable: there needs to be a way to remove a Speaker in the case of misconduct, but being able to do it easily would be disruptive.

However, Kevin McCarthy has offered a concession to the hardliners: if he becomes Speaker, he will make it easier for Republican members to start the process. His initial offer was that only five would be needed, but he's now gone down to allowing any single member to start the process.

A member would have to introduce the resolution on the floor. If they introduce it as a "privileged" resolution, it would force the House to take it up at some point.

This seems foolish to me, presumably the product of desperation to achieve the position he's sought for years. It allows disruption of proceedings in the House, and means the Speaker is at the mercy of every single Republican Representative who wants to show his voters that he's "draining the swamp."

This makes it very doubtful that McCarthy will get any support from the Democrats. They generally feel that a functioning government is necessary, while many Republicans feel otherwise.

Addendum: It's since been demonstrated that removing McCarthy was a lot easier than agreeing on his replacement, Mike Johnson. McCarthy was voted out on October 3 2023, and Johnson installed on October 25, after three other Republican candidates had failed to get enough support.

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