McCarthy screams at Gaetz as fellow GOP rep ‘almost lunged at him’

Republicans in uproar at suggestion to empower temporary speaker until January to allow Jordan more time to convince recalcitrant members

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 19 October 2023 21:40 BST
'I ache for him': Biden laughs when asked about Jim Jordan's speakership votes predicament

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The Republican conference meeting grew heated following the announcement that Rep Jim Jordan is relaunching his campaign for the gavel after putting a pause on his speakership bid.

Rep Kevin McCarthy, the recently ousted speaker, reportedly screamed at Rep Matt Gaetz, who brought the motion to vacate against Mr McCarthy earlier this month, to sit down and Rep Michael Bost was seen “almost lunging at him,” a person who was in the room told Axios.

Mr Jordan backtracked on a pause on his speakership bid on Thursday (19 October), announcing in the afternoon that the members of the House GOP had rejected a temporary solution to empower interim speaker Patrick McHenry until January.

“We made the pitch to members on the resolution as a way to lower the temperature and get back to work. We decided that wasn’t where we’re gonna go. I’m still running for speaker and I plan to go the floor and get the votes and win this race,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner.

According to Punchbowl News, Majority Whip Tom Emmer said: “As I have made very clear over the last few days, we should never allow a Democrat-backed coalition government. Ever. The only coalition we should be looking to build is a Republican coalition uniting all of our conference.”

Republicans coming out of the three-and-a-half-hour conference meeting, which grew emotional at times, said they expected a vote to take place soon but that they wanted to give Mr Jordan more time to speak to the holdouts, CNN reported. 

Twenty-two Republicans voted against Mr Jordan on the second ballot – up from 20 on the first. Four members joined the anti-Jordan coalition, while two who voted against him in the first vote went back into the fold to support him.

Some Republicans, led by Rep David Joyce of Ohio, had previously discussed potentially giving Mr McHenry more power so the House could resume deliberation to pass spending bills to avert a government shutdown.

Mr Jordan’s backing of the resolution to empower Mr McHenry prompted an angry reaction from some in the GOP conference. The resolution would likely need at least some backing from across the aisle.

A person in the meeting room told Axios that several representatives, including Reps Debbie Lesko, Nathaniel Moran, Lance Gooden, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, said during the meeting that Mr Jordan should step down.

Mr McCarthy argued that Mr McHenry should be empowered even as Mr Jordan remains the nominee for speaker.

The former speaker’s loud eruption at Mr Gaetz took place when the Florida Republican was about to take to the microphones to give his view.

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene said the temporary solution is not the way to go.

“We should all be able to find a path in that room right there, and that requires putting the egos down,” she told reporters in the Capitol.

Rep Troy Nehls suggested that Donald Trump be brought in for 100 days to lead the GOP in the House.

Mr Gaetz told reporters on Thursday that he didn’t support the suggestion that Mr McHenry receive temporary powers to reopen the House.

“I’m against ‘Speaker Light.’ I’m against Bud Light. I believe it is a constitutional desecration to not elect a Speaker of the House. We need to stay here until we elect a Speaker,” Mr Gaetz told the press.

Earlier on Thursday, House Freedom Caucus chair Scott Perry said, “We shouldn’t be setting the precedent that this is the way we should elect a speaker”.

Mr Perry added that Mr Jordan “doesn’t need to drop out” and that he would continue to back him.

Rep Don Bacon, an opponent of Mr Jordan, told the press that he has “mixed feelings” about the suggestion to empower Mr McHenry as acting speaker.

“There’s pros and cons … We gotta move some legislation … For our country, we need it, but I think it may delay the Speaker’s thing. And we gotta come to a conclusion,” he said in the Capitol.

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