Picture: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images via AFP/Taken January 30, 2023 – Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (Republican-California). As McCarthy on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, launches an inquiry for the impeachment of US President Joe Biden, US Representative Jamaal Bowman tells the Republican House speaker that “if you don’t stand up to this harmful element of your own party, you will allow them to destroy you and us in the process”, the writer says.
By Jessica Corbett
As far-right Congressman Matt Gaetz on Tuesday signalled that he wasn’t impressed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s bid to appease MAGA (make America great again) Republicans by launching an impeachment inquiry into US President Joe Biden, progressive Rep (representative) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested that GOP (Grand Old Party – another name for Republican Party) extremist legislators appear most interested in causing chaos.
“So let me get this straight: Republicans are threatening to remove their own speaker, impeach the president, and shut down the government on September 30th — disrupting everyday people’s paycheques and general public operations,” Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat-New York – D-NY), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, said on social media. “For what? I don’t think even they know. Chaos vibes.”
The congresswoman’s comments came alongside a video of Gaetz (Republican-Florida), a member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, telling McCarthy (R-California) on the House floor: “I rise today to serve notice — Mr Speaker you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role. The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate total compliance or remove you.”
It took 15 rounds of voting for McCarthy to be elected speaker — and that only came after he agreed to various far-right demands, including a rule allowing a sole member of the chamber to bring a “motion to vacate” forcing a vote on his removal, which just requires a simple majority.
As USA Today reported:
Gaetz said on the House floor Tuesday that McCarthy did not put the House in a position to succeed as the government approaches a looming September 30 shutdown date and still needs to pass 11 appropriations bills.
The Florida legislator called on McCarthy to hold votes on individual spending bills instead of a continuing resolution, a short-term extension GOP leadership has been considering to avert a shutdown. Gaetz said he will move to oust the speaker if a vote is held on the stopgap measure.
“September 30 is rapidly approaching and you have not put us in a position to succeed. There is no way to pass all the individual appropriations bills now and it’s not like we didn’t know when September 30 was going to show up on the calendar,” he said.
As for the McCarthy kicking off House members’ return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday by directing the Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees to launch an impeachment inquiry into Biden related to his son’s business dealings and legal issues — despite the lack of any proof of wrongdoing by the president — Gaetz said, “This is a baby step following weeks of pressure from House conservatives to do more.”
Ocasio-Cortez was not the only progressive to respond on social media to Gaetz’s remarks. In a lengthy post on X, formerly Twitter, Rep Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) said: “Holy cow. All HELL is breaking loose on the floor of the House. Matt Gaetz is threatening to launch a ‘mutiny’ against Kevin McCarthy and oust him from power. To the speaker of the House: This is what you created.
“You are the worst kind of coward and now you reap what you sow,” Bowman told McCarthy. The congressman charged that the speaker has kowtowed to the demands of “the most EXTREMIST zealots” in the Republican Party, who “have lied, intimidated, and strong-armed their dangerous political ends”, which has come “at the cost of our institutions and democracy”.
“Instead of leadership, you have shown nothing but cowardice,” he added in his message to McCarthy. “You care about nothing except your own power. You might be speaker today, but if you don’t stand up to this harmful element of your own party, you will allow them to destroy you and us in the process. Mr Speaker, grow a backbone. Because until then, you do not SPEAK for anyone.”
Other members of Congress on Tuesday blasted the impeachment inquiry, which many critics have called an attempt to harm Biden’s chances of being re-elected next year and help Trump, who is the GOP’s 2024 front-runner, despite facing four criminal cases and arguments that inciting the January 6, 2021 insurrection constitutionally disqualifies him from holding office again.
Trump, the first US president to ever be impeached twice, “has been weighing in behind the scenes in support of the House GOP push to impeach” Biden, according to Politico. In addition to weekly conversations with House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the first member of Republican leadership to back impeachment, the ex-president “had dinner at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), an ally of Trump and McCarthy”.
Greene, who said last month that “I will not vote to fund the government unless we have passed an impeachment inquiry”, welcomed McCarthy’s move on Tuesday to launch the Biden probe without holding a vote. She also got into an online spat with Gaetz about which of them has been pushing harder for an impeachment inquiry targeting the president.
In a series of early Tuesday posts on X, Ian Sams, the White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, said that “McCarthy is being told by Marjorie Taylor Greene to do impeachment, or else she’ll shut down the government”.
“Opening impeachment despite zero evidence of wrongdoing by POTUS is simply red meat for the extreme right-wing so they can keep baselessly attacking him,” Sams added, pointing to previous comments from Gaetz and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Kentucky). “They admit it.”
Jessica Corbett is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.
This article was first published on Common Dreams.