The fate of Republican McCarthy is uncertain as he faces what's known as a'motion to vacate' from Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a strident critic allied with Donald Trump. It would take only a handful of Republicans from his slim majority to remove McCarthy as speaker if Democrats vote in favor of the conservative rebels.
It's a stunning moment for the embattled McCarthy that serves as the most severe challenge yet, a potential punishment sparked by his weekend decision to work with Democrats to keep the federal government open rather than risk a shutdown. So far, several hard-right Republicans said they are ready to oppose McCarthy, many of them who fought in January during his prolonged battle to gain the gavel.
In his hour-long meeting in the Capitol basement, McCarthy invoked Republican speaker Joseph Cannon, who over 100 years ago confronted his critics head on by calling their bluff and setting the vote himself on his removal. Cannon survived that take-down attempt which, until today, was the first time the House had actually voted to remove its speaker.
In the private meeting, Mr. McCarthy received three standing ovations, one when he came to the microphone to speak, again during his remarks and lastly when he was done, according to a Republican at the meeting and granted anonymity to discuss it.
On the other side of the Capitol, Democrats lined up for a long discussion and unified around one common point: McCarthy cannot be trusted. ''S safe to say there's not a lot of good will in that room for Kevin McCarthy,'' said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.
The House Republicans would launch the House Republicans into chaos, as they try to find a new leader. In January, it took McCarthy 15 rounds over multiple days of voting before he secured the support of his colleagues to gain the gavel. There is no clear successor for the Republican presidential nominee, and there is no clear nominee for the position.
McCarthy appeared confident he would win this round, but admitted it may not be the last word. He has said that he is not done fighting the speaker, and could try again as many times as he likes.
The snap vote is part of a push by Republicans to make progress on a key demand from Gaetz and others, which is to move ahead with the 12 annual spending bills and prevent another stopgap measure like the one Congress approved last weekend hours before the government shutdown.