Florida firebrand Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is at the center of a GOP faction’s fight to block Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from becoming House speaker, said he will resign if Democrats come to McCarthy’s aid and also took a swipe at former President Donald Trump in a Fox News appearance Thursday.
Gaetz is one of 20 Republicans who have so far refused to vote for McCarthy to inherit the speaker’s gavel from Nancy Pelosi after the GOP eked out a slim majority in the November midterms. On Thursday, McCarthy failed for an 11th time to get the necessary 218 votes to assume the role. While some of the holdouts have signaled a willingness to back McCarthy in exchange for concessions, Gaetz said he isn’t planning to change his vote.
“I wouldn’t be betting on my vote for Kevin McCarthy under almost any circumstance,” Gaetz told Fox News host Laura Ingraham, adding that in the unlikely scenario a handful of Democrats helped put McCarthy over the top, he would step down.
“If Democrats join up to elect a moderate Republican, I will resign from the House of Representatives,” said Gaetz, adding that the pledge underscored how sure he was such a scenario would not happen.
The jab at Trump was uncharacteristic of Gaetz, who has long been a backer of the 45th president and even voted for him to be speaker during two of the votes Thursday. But with Trump supporting McCarthy for speaker, Gaetz accused the 2024 candidate of having a blind spot when it comes to personnel decisions.
“I defended him a great deal in Congress, but HR wasn’t always his strong suit,” Gaetz said of Trump. “You know, President Trump got us folks like Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr and Jim Mattis and Mark Esper. People who didn’t always advance America First policy.”
Fox News host Laura ingraham presses Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) over the drama surrounding the race for House Speaker.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 6, 2023
The Republicans who are blocking McCarthy’s bid include Reps. Dan Bishop (NC), Lauren Boebert (CO), Byron Donalds (FL), Josh Brecheen (OK), Mike Cloud (TX), Andrew Clyde (GA), Eli Crane (AZ), Matt Gaetz (FL), Bob Good (VA), Paul Gosar (AZ), Andy Harris (MD), Anna Paulina Luna (FL), Mary Miller (IL), Ralph Norman (SC), Andy Ogles (TN), Scott Perry (PA), Matt Rosendale (MT), Chip Roy (TX), Keith Self (TX), and Andy Biggs (AZ).
That number is expected to dwindle on Friday as reports have surfaced indicating that a deal has reportedly been struck that may give McCarthy several more of the votes that he needs to become speaker.