News and Analysis

Fallout And Triumphs From The Matt Gaetz Coup
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks to reporters as he leaves a House Republican candidates forum where congressmen who are running for Speaker of the House presented their platforms in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill on October 23, 2023 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Days after leading a successful revolt against Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said the gambit was “absolutely” worth potentially losing his seat in the House.

“Look, I am here to fight for my constituents. And I’m here to ensure that America’s not on a path to financial ruin,” Gaetz told NBC’s Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” in an interview that aired on October 8. Gaetz also decried what he said was a lack of a “plan” on spending after the House passed a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown in late September.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) leaves the U.S. Capitol after U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted form his position, October 3, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fast-forward 11 weeks and Gaetz is still in office while McCarthy is set to retire early at the end of the year.

The GOP-controlled House, now led for roughly two months by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), has made some progress in approving more single-subject spending bills instead of resorting to “omnibus” legislation — a stated priority for Gaetz — albeit with a two-step or “laddered” continuing resolution to keep the government funded through early next year and familiar struggles to stay on schedule.

Though he opposed the latest stop-gap spending measure, Gaetz asserted to CNN last month that Johnson “has shown a commitment and a sincerity in this process that was totally absent under Kevin McCarthy.”

Gaetz may like what he is seeing with Johnson as speaker, but House Republicans still face the reality of having to contend with a Democrat-led Senate and a Democrat in the White House. All the while Congress is facing a public opinion crisis — with less than 20% approval, according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll tracker — and data reported by Axios showing that 2023 had the fewest number of laws passed in decades.

And there is uncertainty in the long run when it comes to the new speaker’s effectiveness on a number of fronts.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

McCarthy established himself as a powerhouse fundraiser, and his sudden ouster leaves Johnson with a lot to prove to donors. The California Republican also touted himself as a key architect in building two GOP majorities in the House. Johnson’s first big election test will come in 2024.

“We have to keep the team together and I think everybody understands the importance of the job that we have to do. We have to demonstrate we can govern well,” Johnson recently told Fox News when pressed on the House GOP’s narrowing majority. “When we do that, I think we’ll expand the majority and we’ll be in a much better situation in the next round.”

Gaetz insisted to CNN that he would not hold Johnson to a different standard than McCarthy. He warned Johnson would “likely face a similar fate” if the new speaker fails to rein in spending after being given several months to settle into the new position.

McCarthy, who represents the 20th Congressional District in California, was first elected to Congress in 2006 and worked his way up the GOP ranks. He won the speaker’s gavel in the 15th round of voting in January, but only after making concessions, such as restoring the ability of a single member to trigger the “motion to vacate” process that would lead to a no-confidence vote. That’s just what Gaetz did in early October, after which he and seven other Republicans joined with Democrats to remove McCarthy from the speakership.


In a recent interview with CBS News, McCarthy encouraged Johnson not to fret over the “motion to vacate” mechanism. “I think the best advice I could give to him: you’re the speaker of the House. Do not — do not govern in the idea that you’re afraid somebody’s going to make a motion to vacate,” McCarthy said.

“When I made the decision to pay our troops and not shut down, I knew they were going to make a motion to vacate on me. I didn’t even know the Democrats would go along with it. But what I did know is, I had been in that room before. I had watched what had failed,” McCarthy said. He also claimed, “I would do it all again, because I hope others would look at that and do the exact same thing. It was right.”

Former Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listens during a press conference with members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party at the Cannon House Office Building on November 15, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

During the speakership clash, McCarthy claimed that Gaetz’s opposition to his leadership really had to do with “personal” issues under review in a House ethics investigation. Gaetz fired back, according to CNBC, saying, “For some people, policy failures are recast as personal because their own failures are personally embarrassing to them.”

As recently as this month, the House Ethics Committee probe was reportedly still active following another witness interview request. It remains to be seen what the panel finds, but a scathing ethics report on another member — Rep. George Santos (R-NY) — led to a bipartisan vote that expelled him from the House.

While a great deal of uncertainty hovers over what is promising to be a wild presidential election year, the House began its holiday break with the GOP united. Every Republican member voted in favor of formally authorizing the corruption-focused impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden on December 13.

Johnson also gave conservatives reason to cheer when he stood firm in demanding “transformative” border security reforms in exchange for a funding boost to U.S. allies, including Ukraine, and spearheaded the passage of a bill to offset $14.3 billion in aid for Israel by slashing the same amount of funds meant for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that got the begrudging support of a dozen Democrats.

After Johnson announced the online rollout of more January 6 footage last month — a significant step in a disclosure process that began under his predecessor — Gaetz praised the new speaker for “keeping” his word. “If he says he is going to do something, he is going to do it,” Gaetz said in a post to X.

Already have an account?

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Fallout And Triumphs From The Matt Gaetz Coup