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The motion to vacate the chair and other provisions in House rules of the 118th Congress

Washington — One of the key concessions made by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in his bid to be House speaker was to restore the ability of a single member to call for a no-confidence vote in the speaker, a provision he opposed early this week, but one he agreed to on Wednesday to win over the most conservative members of the GOP conference.

The demand by the Republican holdouts would restore the House rule on vacating the chair to what it was before Rep. Nancy Pelosi was elected speaker in 2019. Under Pelosi, a motion to vacate could be offered on the House floor only if a majority of either party agreed to it. Before that rule change, a single member could move for a vote to unseat the speaker.

The ability of a single House lawmaker to propose a motion to "vacate the chair" — or to bring to the floor a vote of no confidence in the speaker — had been a key sticking point for some of the Republicans who opposed McCarthy's bid to be speaker. 

McCarthy countered with a proposed rule that would allow a motion to "vacate the chair" with the support of five members, rather than one. That didn't satisfy some of the most conservative members of his caucus, including Reps. Scott Perry and Byron Donalds, both of whom voted against him on every ballot earlier in the week.

The rule was invoked in 2015, when then-GOP Rep. Mark Meadows filed a motion to vacate against Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who ultimately resigned as speaker and from Congress before a vote was held. 

In addition, McCarthy agreed to give more seats on the House Rules committee to the House Freedom Caucus.

And the McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund announced it will no longer spend in primaries for safe GOP seats, which was related to another demand by the group of about 20 far-right conservatives who initially opposed McCarthy.

The rules package from the incoming House GOP majority would also end proxy voting and remote committee proceedings, as well as fines for members who don't wear masks. It would create a select subcommittee on the "Weaponization of the Federal Government to investigate the Biden administration's assault on the constitutional rights of American citizens." 

Rebecca Kaplan and Ellis Kim contributed reporting.

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