Republican Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida used the motion to vacate to ultimately remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership post recently.
Now, as the GOP is struggling to find an obvious replacement at the top of the House leadership, some members of the party are weighing whether the current rule should be changed.
As part of the negotiations that led to McCarthy being confirmed as Speaker back in January, Gaetz and a small minority of far-right Republicans in the House won the right to bring a motion to vacate with only one vote. That gave significant power to a small number of House members.
After Gaetz brought that motion, McCarthy was ousted as House Speaker, since some Republicans in the Florida representative’s camp, along with all House Democrats, voted to remove him.
That ouster has led to considerable chaos in the House, which is without a Speaker right now and doesn’t have a clear path to finding one anytime soon.
That’s convinced a group of 45 Republicans in the House to sign an open letter that called for some changes to be made to the motion to vacate rule. In their letter, the expressed their frustration with the eight Republican lawmakers who voted to vacate the speakership.
As they wrote in the letter:
“It is our responsibility to identify the right person at this moment to lead us into the future to achieve the conservative policy objectives that we and the American people all share. We cannot allow our majority to be dictated to by the alliance between the chaos caucus and the minority party that will do nothing more than guarantee the failure of our next Speaker.
“The injustice we all witnessed cannot go unaddressed – lest we bear responsibility for the consequences that follow. Our Conference must address fundamental changes to the structure of our majority to ensure success for the American people.”
The letter was signed by the chair of the moderate Republican Governance Group, Representative David Joyce of Ohio, as well as the chair of the Main Street Caucus, Representative Dusty Johnson of North Dakota. The latter’s group issued a statement that expressed skepticism about the rules governing the motion to vacate.
That statement read:
“The ability for one person to vacate the Speaker of the House will keep a chokehold on this body through 2024. Personal politics should never again be used to trump the will of 96% of House conservatives. Any candidate for Speaker must explain to us how what happened on Tuesday will never happen again.”
While it’s clear that many House Republicans believe the rule needs to be changed, what’s less clear is what the threshold should be. Some have said that 50% of the members of the House Republican Conference should be needed to introduce a motion to vacate.
That being said, changing the rule is going to be an uphill battle for the next Speaker, as the hard-line conservatives are likely to want to keep the power that they won in the fierce negotiations earlier this year.