Top US Republican fights right-wing threat to leadership

WASHINGTON: US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faced ever-dwindling chances of political survival on Tuesday after Democrats announced they would not bail him out of a move by hardliners within his own Republican party to remove him from the powerful post.

McCarthy sparked fury among the ultra-conservative wing of the Republicans at the weekend when he worked with Democrats to pass a stopgap funding measure to avert a government shutdown.

Leading the criticism is congressman Matt Gaetz, a longtime McCarthy antagonist who on Monday moved to topple the speaker with a “motion to vacate the chair” — forcing a vote scheduled for mid-afternoon.

The move meant Democrats were faced with the choice of voting to rescue a speaker who is aligned with scandal-embroiled former Republican president Donald Trump and recently opened an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries ultimately encouraged Democrats to oust McCarthy, criticizing the right-wing lawmakers he refers to as “MAGA extremists” after Trump´s “Make America Great Again” movement.

“Given their unwillingness to break from MAGA extremism in an authentic and comprehensive manner, House Democratic leadership will vote yes on the pending Republican motion to vacate the chair,” Jeffries said in a letter to colleagues.

And the writing looked to be on the wall as a preliminary vote designed to “table” Gaetz´s motion, effectively strangling it at birth, failed — with 11 Republicans voting to proceed to the main ballot, expected after an hour of debate.

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