Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Tuesday that he would not try to broker a deal with Democrats to defeat a hard-right effort to oust him, even though he has little chance of hanging onto his leadership post without their support.
In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Mr. McCarthy said Democrats would “decide whatever they’re going to do. And we will live with whatever happens.”
Democrats “haven’t asked for anything” in exchange for voting to support him, Mr. McCarthy said, “and I’m not going to provide anything.”
He could try to quash the effort led by Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida to depose him as soon as Tuesday afternoon by asking the House to vote to “table,” or kill, Mr. Gaetz’s resolution. But the speaker’s slim majority and the size number of right-wing rebels in favor of ousting him mean he has little chance of surviving a vote to keep his job — which requires a majority — without at least some support from Democrats.
House Democrats were set to meet on Tuesday morning to consider whether to bail out Mr. McCarthy. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader, told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday that the party would “come to a collective decision at the end.”
Mr. Jeffries gave few hints as to how he might advise his caucus to vote, but he said he had heard from “a lot of members of the House Democratic caucus that there are real trust issues with the leadership of the Republicans overall” and issued a laundry list of grievances they had with Mr. McCarthy’s leadership.
“We dealt with a variety of different things, including coming into the session last month, and the first official act was to launch this illegitimate impeachment inquiry, presumably at the direction of the former twice-impeached insurrectionist-in-chief, Donald Trump,” Mr. Jeffries said. “These are all the challenges that I think we confront.”
The proceedings set to play out on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on when Mr. McCarthy chooses to force a vote, have taken place only once before in the House of Representatives, in 1920. They are the culmination of a monthslong power struggle between Mr. McCarthy and a group of far-right lawmakers who tried to block his ascent to the speakership in January and have tormented him ever since, blocking his efforts to keep the government funded and the nation from defaulting on its debt.
Mr. Gaetz said he sought to subject Mr. McCarthy to the rare form of political punishment after the speaker relied on Democratic votes to push through a stopgap funding bill over the weekend to keep the government open. Mr. Gaetz and a bloc of hard-liners had refused to back a Republican-authored short-term spending plan to keep the government open.
“It is becoming increasingly clear who the speaker of the House already works for, and it’s not the Republican conference,” Mr. Gaetz said from the House floor on Monday, as he made the case for Mr. McCarthy’s ouster.
Mr. McCarthy was unapologetic on Tuesday about that move.
“I made a decision to take a risk to keep the government open,” Mr. McCarthy said on CNBC. “If at the end of the day I am removed from speaker because I moved to ensure that the troops and Border Patrol agents continued to receive pay, that’s a fight worth fighting for.”
“I’ve always said I would fight for the American public,” he added, “and that’s exactly what I did, and I’ll continue to do that, and let the chips fall where they may.”