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Freedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi
A bloc of House conservatives on Friday pressed Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to force a floor vote by next week to oust Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for blocking two Republicans from serving on the special committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Such a vote on what's known as a "motion to vacate the chair" would be quickly rejected by Democrats, who control the majority, and some moderate Republicans.
But the one-page letter from the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus represents a test for McCarthy, who likely will need Freedom Caucus support in his quest to secure 218 votes and become speaker if Republicans win back the House in 2022.
The group of conservative rabble-rousers, closely aligned with former President Trump, derailed McCarthy's bid to be speaker in 2015, when Ohio Republican John Boehner abruptly resigned from the job after a Freedom Caucus leader threatened to force a similar floor vote to oust him from power.
"We, the House Freedom Caucus, respectfully request that you ... bring up a privileged motion by July 31, 2021 to vacate the chair and Nancy Pelosi's authoritarian reign as Speaker of the House," the Freedom Caucus wrote to McCarthy.
A McCarthy spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the letter, the Freedom Caucus also cited other reasons why Pelosi should be removed: She has allowed remote, proxy voting by lawmakers due to the coronavirus pandemic, and she had metal detectors installed at the entrances to the House floor after the Jan. 6 attack
"Speaker Pelosi's tenure is destroying the House of Representatives and our ability to faithfully represent the people we are here to serve," the group wrote.
But their main gripe was her decision this week to essentially veto two of McCarthy's five GOP picks for the Jan. 6 select committee: Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Both are die-hard Trump loyalists and Jordan was the founding chairman of the Freedom Caucus. In response, a furious McCarthy said Republicans would boycott participating in the committee, which kicks off its first hearing Tuesday.
But Freedom Caucus leaders, led by Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), want McCarthy to get more aggressive with Pelosi and go further.
"Less easily reversible" than proxy voting and metal detectors "is the damage done to the institution by the Leadership of one party dictating the ability of members of another party to serve in roles at the discretion of their own conference," the letter said. "That abuse cannot go unchecked."
"Speaker Pelosi's refusal to seat Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks on the Select Committee to Investigate January 6 is intolerable. ... Republicans under your leadership must show the American people that we will act to protect our ability to represent their interests."
The plot by Trump loyalists to oust Pelosi hues closely with a far-fetched, seven-point plan to reinstate Trump as president "in days, not years." Cards outlining the strategy were made by a group called Patriots Soar and distributed this month to people attending a Conservative Political Action Conference gathering in Dallas.
The plan calls for ousting Pelosi, second in line to the presidency, from the Speakership, installing Trump as Speaker, and impeaching President Biden and Vice President Harris, allowing Trump to ascend to the presidency.