Reps. Emmer, Phillips find themselves in DC spotlight
Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown over the weekend when the U.S. House approved a temporary funding measure.
The celebration didn’t last long. By Monday one member of the House Republican caucus threatened to make a “motion to vacate” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chair.
“Members of the Republican Party might vote differently on a motion to vacate if they knew what the speaker had to share with us about his secret side deal with Joe Biden on Ukraine,” Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said on the House floor Monday, alluding to what he claims is an agreement McCarthy made with President Biden as part of a deal to avert a government shutdown.
A motion to vacate has only been used a couple of times since 1910 and has never successfully resulted in the removal of a speaker.
“It’s a very rare procedure being invoked against the speaker in an attempt to vacate the chair by a member of his own party,” Carleton College political analyst Steven Schier says of the possible Gaetz motion.
If McCarthy were to be removed from the speaker position, there has been speculation Minnesota 6th District Congressman Tom Emmer, the House majority whip, could be a possible replacement. Schier has his doubts any of that will transpire.
“If Tom Emmer becomes speaker of the House, we will have one of the most remarkable political events in the history of Congress occurring,” Schier said. “The odds are very much against it. Emmer is opposed to it.”
For his part, Emmer posted a message of support for McCarthy on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: “Tested and proven. That has been the theme of our House Republican majority under Speaker McCarthy’s leadership.”
Tested and proven.— Tom Emmer (@GOPMajorityWhip) October 2, 2023
That has been the theme of our House Republican Majority under @SpeakerMcCarthy’s leadership.
I’m proud to support the Speaker as we continue championing conservative priorities that will put our country on a better path.
Meanwhile, Minnesota Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips announced he’s leaving a leadership post in the Democratic caucus. He says he wasn’t forced or pressured to resign but wrote on X that his efforts to find another candidate for president to replace Joe Biden are at odds with most of his Democratic colleagues.
“While politics & official work do not mix, it’s clear my convictions about 2024 are incongruent with the position of my colleagues & that was causing discomfort,” Phillips wrote.
I have decided to step down from the DPCC & Democratic Caucus leadership. While politics & official work do not mix, it’s clear my convictions about 2024 are incongruent with the position of my colleagues & that was causing discomfort. I was not pressured or forced to resign. 1/2— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) October 1, 2023
“Both Dean Phillips and Tom Emmer of Minnesota are in the middle of congressional controversy,” Schier says. “Now, Phillips created the controversy himself … but Emmer would like to avoid this controversy he’s in the middle of.”
If Gaetz makes a motion to vacate, a vote on McCarthy’s leadership would have to take place within two legislative days.