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If the GOP tried to expel Kevin McCarthy, would the Democrats save him?

It’s not exactly a secret that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing a contingent from his own conference that would like to fire him. These members — many of whom fought to deny the Californian the speaker’s gavel in the first place — even have a mechanism in mind to send McCarthy packing: the House motion to vacate the speakership.

Rep. Matt Gaetz has positioned himself as the president’s most prominent foe within the party, but the Florida Republican is not alone: ​​Several GOP members have publicly flirted with the idea of ​​forcing a vote on the McCarthy’s ouster, and Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana took similar action yesterday, issuing a statement denouncing the “weak” speaker’s “lack of leadership.”

Such chatter took its toll on McCarthy. In fact, the frustration seemed to boil over last week during a closed-door Republican debate in which the speaker virtually dared his Republican detractors to put to a vote and table the “rescind motion.” McCarthy reportedly told his critics, “If you want to file a motion to quash, then file the damn motion.” »

At this point, it remains an open question when or if this confrontation will take place. But an equally notable mystery hangs over our heads: what would the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives do if McCarthy’s Republican opponents carried out their threats?

The Washington Post reported yesterday:

It would ultimately be up to Democrats to remove McCarthy from the presidency. If all Democrats voted with a handful of Republicans on a resignation motion, McCarthy would lose his job. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told the Post that his caucus had not yet discussed whether he would help McCarthy keep his job if Republicans tried to oust him. oust.

The procedural arithmetic is quite simple: If a member were to file a motion to vacate the chair, House members would vote to oust or retain the incumbent speaker. At this point, it would simply be a matter of majority rule: If most members voted to keep McCarthy in his current position, he would remain president. If most members voted to take away his gavel, he would be forced to resign and it would be time to elect his successor.

In the current House – which has 433 members due to two vacancies – there are 212 Democrats. If they stood united and voted to fire McCarthy, it would only take five GOP members to break ranks and oust the president.

Are there five Republicans in the House of Representatives willing to take such action? Yes, almost certainly, but related questions are harder to answer: Do House Democrats want to force McCarthy out? If so, how many Democrats would vote that way?

For now, this is a difficult question to answer with certainty, but there are two angles I recommend keeping in mind.

The first is that the Democrats Really I don’t like McCarthy. They see him as a weak, stupid partisan who is untrustworthy, who doesn’t take government seriously, and who is too easily pushed around by radicals, Fox News, and a certain someone in Mar-a -The girlfriend. The speaker’s desire to launch a ridiculous impeachment inquiry targeting President Joe Biden managed to once again damage his already damaged reputation.

The second is that Democrats fear McCarthy’s successor will be worse. In fact, Axios reported last week that “most” Democrats would likely be hesitant.

Democratic Rep. Greg Landsman of Ohio told Axios that while there is “no love for” McCarthy in Democratic ranks, there are “concerns about more chaos and whether who could take his place if he is expelled.”

The outgoing president, Landsman added, is “the devil you know.”

As the drama continues, don’t be surprised if a significant number of Democrats begin weighing their options in interesting behind-the-scenes conversations. I suspect a number of Democratic members will approach Gaetz and McCarthy separately to ask about possible deals.

“It’s a nice hammer,” they will indeed say. “What would you say it’s worth?”