WASHINGTON — As criticism mounts in Republican ranks over the debt ceiling deal reached by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and President Joe Biden, some die-hard conservatives have started to float the idea of overthrowing the president.
During a House Freedom Caucus call Monday night, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., launched the vacancy motion, a rule that would allow any member of Congress to force a vote to remove the speaker, two sources familiar with the call told NBC News. Buck, speaking toward the end of the call, referred to it as the “elephant in the room,” a source said.
After House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry, R-Pa., suggested it might be too early for such a drastic threat, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, offered to use the threat to force McCarthy to allow members to amend the House floor bill, under an “open rule” that could block the bill’s passage. Perry replied that they would discuss the matter further when the members returned to Washington after the long weekend.
A lawmaker on the appeal who confirmed Buck suggested using the nullification motion said of the Biden-McCarthy deal, “Some people think it’s a complete dud,” adding, “I would say there are five or more who would be sympathetic to Buck’s position.
Another lawmaker who was on the call, but didn’t hear Buck’s suggestion, said bluntly, “The unit we had is gone.
Nearly a dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus slammed the debt ceiling bill at a news conference on Tuesday and vowed to vote no, but when asked how many of their members would support a motion to rescind, only Rep. Dan Bishop, RN.C., raised his hand.
When asked on Tuesday afternoon if he was concerned that Bishop would threaten a motion to oust him, McCarthy replied, “No, it’s his choice.”
While right-wingers publicly blasted the deal — calling it “madness” and a “shitty sandwich” and criticizing the scale of the cuts — lawmakers had refrained from threatening to oust McCarthy over the agreement.
Over the weekend, many lawmakers rejected the use of the nullification motion when asked if they would threaten McCarthy’s presidency on the debt bill, even as a number growing number of people say they intend to vote against it.
But, as a former Republican White House official told NBC News over the weekend after the deal was announced: “McCarthy is now on a clock.”
A spokesperson for Buck declined to comment on the congressman’s comments, but said the Republican was seeking a solution to the debt ceiling “that doesn’t give Democrats a blank check.”
“We don’t comment on internal HFC discussions,” Buck spokesman Joe Jackson said. “Congressman Buck is focused on finding a debt ceiling solution that doesn’t give Democrats a blank check to add trillions to the debt over the next two years.”
Spokespersons for Perry and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, warned of an “account” for Republican leaders “unless we stop this bill by tomorrow.”
“The Republican conference right now has been torn apart,” Roy said, urging “not a single Republican” to vote for the bill.
Asked how many members would support the nullification motion, Perry said he was “focused on defeating this bill”, repeatedly refusing to discuss the issue.
“What happens after that and the agreements that we have, we will decide once we determine the disposition of this bill and its purpose,” Perry said.
After the press conference, Bishop, who called the vote “career defining” for House Republicans, did not say whether he would table the motion to oust McCarthy himself, but added: “It must be done”.
“I’m ready to figure out how to fix this s—sandwich. It can always be fixed, but the road gets narrower to fix it each time,” Bishop said. “And Kevin McCarthy is sitting there at the head.”
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com