Matt Gaetz’s New Mission Isn’t Good for Kevin McCarthy


Representative Matt Gaetz vowed to “be better” about holding House Speaker Kevin McCarthy accountable amid rising tensions in the House Republican conference over a government funding bill.

McCarthy has walked a fine line as Speaker amid difficult legislative battles due to the GOP’s slim majority in the House of Representatives. The California Republican only narrowly eked a victory in the Speaker race in January after a days-long brouhaha that ended with him agreeing to concessions to the party’s right-flank, including a measure that would allow members to vacate the Speaker position at any point. Now, McCarthy has sought to appease both staunch social conservatives and moderates representing districts won by President Joe Biden in 2020 to maintain his position.

But tensions remain among House Republicans, and an upcoming legislative battle over a bill to fund the government through the next fiscal year threatens to highlight those divisions and upend McCarthy’s speakership. Meanwhile, he has faced criticism from some on the right after negotiating a deal with Democrats to avert a default on the national debt, his stance for aid for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, and for not releasing security tapes of the January 6, 2021, riot.

Gaetz, a Florida conservative, has been among the Republicans most critical of McCarthy and was one of the Republicans who withheld his vote for McCarthy in January.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) speaks to Rep.Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in the House Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2023. Gaetz vowed to “be better” about holding McCarthy accountable in a post to social media platform X on Tuesday.
Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty

He responded to a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, asking why he has not done more to hold “McCarthy’s feet to the fire,” pledging to “be better” about doing so in the future.

“I’ve spent the last 8 months giving you my best effort at this with the tools at my disposal. It hasn’t been good enough. I haven’t been good enough. I know that. And I have reflected on it deeply. I will endeavor to be better. You deserve better than this,” Gaetz responded.

Gaetz did not offer specifics about how planned to hold McCarthy accountable. When reached by Newsweek about specific ways Gaetz could hold McCarthy accountable, and whether this means he could move to vacate, a Gaetz spokesperson said the Congressman’s post “speaks for itself.”

Will Tanner, the editor of the conservative publication The American Tribune, wrote in response to Gaetz’s post, “Time for Gaetz to regroup and then go scorched earth.”

Meanwhile, conservative commentator Steve Bannon called on House Republicans to move to vacate the speaker position during an episode of his War Room podcast on Tuesday, pointing to the deficit deal, which he said did not solve his concerns surrounding the U.S. economy.

“Now McCarthy and the same uni-party is going to be there and giving you more happy talk, and how you really need to focus on the long term and how we’ll get there next year. They should get ready for the motion to vacate. He’s clearly not up for the job,” Bannon said.

McCarthy is already facing pressure over the upcoming government funding bill after the Freedom Caucus, a coalition of the most conservative members of Congress, laid out several red lines for a funding bill. Some conservatives have also criticized House Republicans for not publicly releasing security tapes of the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol building.

Following the debt ceiling clash, Gaetz said he would make a “great” House leader as McCarthy faced conservative revolt.


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