House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) arrives at a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the U.S. Capitol on October 3, 2023.

(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

'Let Them Wallow in Their Pigsty': Unified Democrats Say They Won't Vote to Save McCarthy

"We are not voting in any way that will help Republicans," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

House Democrats made clear Tuesday that they will not help GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy save his leadership job as the chamber prepares to vote shortly on far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz's motion to take the gavel from the California Republican.

"We are not voting in any way that will help Republicans," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol, pointing to McCarthy's actions in the wake of the January 6 insurrection and his continued support for former President Donald Trump, as well as his refusal to honor the bipartisan debt ceiling deal.

"There is reason after reason to just let Republicans deal with their own problems," said Jayapal. "Let them wallow in their pigsty of incompetence and inability to govern."

Confident in his ability to survive the Gaetz-led revolt, McCarthy is expected to call a vote Tuesday on the Florida Republican's motion to vacate. A majority of the House lawmakers present for the vote is required for the motion to succeed.

At least six House Republicans have said they will vote yes on the motion, which would be enough to oust McCarthy if all Democrats also vote yes—though absences could impact the threshold. If the motion succeeds, a temporary speaker will take McCarthy's spot—and it's not yet clear when a new election will be held.

In addition to Gaetz, the five other Republicans who have indicated they will vote to vacate are Reps. Eli Crane and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, Tim Burchett of Tennessee, and Matt Rosendale of Montana.

A vote is expected later Tuesday afternoon.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) signaled that Democrats are unified and "will vote yes on the pending Republican motion to vacate the chair."

"House Democrats remain willing to find common ground on an enlightened path forward," Jeffries wrote. "Unfortunately, our extreme Republican colleagues have shown no willingness to do the same. It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War."

Rank-and-file Democrats have thus far provided no indication that they will break from their leadership to rescue McCarthy, who agreed earlier this year to allow any single House member to bring a motion to vacate as part of his deal with far-right Republicans to secure the speakership.

Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) said in a statement Tuesday that "McCarthy voted to sell out our democracy to a mob of armed white supremacists to become speaker."

"He then sold his speakership to help MAGA extremists criminalize abortion, cut Social Security and Medicare, ban Black history, gut workers' rights and voting rights, and sell out our children's safety to the gun lobby and corporate polluters," Lee added. "If we didn't stop him, he would have sold out the entire country to keep his little gig as speaker of the chaos caucus. Why would I—or any Democrat—vote for a Republican speaker who supports Donald Trump and white supremacists? It's a NO from me."

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