AOC said she'd vote to vacate McCarthy, but leaves door open for negotiations

October 2, 2023

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has come under fire from some of his Republican colleagues, and could soon face a vote that would cost him the top leadership position. 

According to The Hill, House Democrats have weighed in on the intra-party scuffle, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told CNN that she'd "absolutely " vote in favor of vacating McCarthy.

The New York progressive admitted that she and her Democratic colleagues could be convinced to help save McCarthy should he need it, but not for free.

Typically, the minority party in the House would undoubtedly back a motion to vacate, as it would give them a chance to nominate one of their own for the speakership.

Wheeling and dealing

AOC hinted that she might be willing to come to McCarthy's rescue, but it would presumably come at a cost that McCarthy wouldn't be able to afford, politically.

"Well, my vote at the beginning of this term for Speaker of the House was for [House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)], and I do not intend on voting for a Republican Speaker of the House," AOC said.

She added, "But I believe that it’s up to the Republican conference to determine their own leadership and deal with their own problems. But it’s not up to Democrats to save Republicans, from themselves especially."

That's when she slipped in a get-out-of-jail-free card possibility when asked if Democrats would consider saving his job.

"I certainly don’t think that we would expect to see that unless there’s a real conversation between the Republican and Democratic caucuses and Republican Democratic leadership about what that would mean, but I don’t think we give up votes for free," AOC said.

If Democrats voted in favor of vacating the speakership, McCarthy could only afford a few "no" votes from his Republican colleagues.

"Weak speaker"

McCarthy faces intense criticism from both sides of the aisle. Ocasio-Cortez described him as a "weak speaker" who has "lost control" of his caucus in the wake of a vote to avoid a government shutdown.

"I think Kevin McCarthy is a very weak Speaker. He clearly has lost control of his caucus. He has brought the United States and millions of Americans to the brink waiting until the final hour to keep the government open and even then only issuing a 45-day extension. So we’re going to be right back in this place in November," the progressive NY Democrat said.

On Monday evening, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) moved to force a vote to vacate the speakership, as he threatened to do over the weekend.

"He doesn’t have my support anymore and he doesn’t have the support of a requisite number of Republicans to continue as the Republican Speaker," the Florida Republican said Monday evening on the House floor.

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