Matt Gaetz

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‘I’ll work with AOC’: Matt Gaetz tries to goad Democrats into helping him oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Gaetz is willing to do whatever it takes to remove McCarthy as speaker.


Katherine Huggins


Posted on Sep 11, 2023

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wants to team up with Democratic lawmakers to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Gaetz, a firebrand member of the House Freedom Caucus, has frequently criticized the Republican speaker.

In January, amid a heated fight after Republicans took back the House of Representatives, Gaetz accused McCarthy of illegally occupying the speaker’s office as McCarthy struggled through multiple rounds of voting before being formally elected.

Gaetz was one of the last holdouts opposing McCarthy as speaker, but ultimately switched his vote to “present” because he “ran out of things [he] could even imagine to ask for.”

And now, amid a renewed push by far-right lawmakers to impeach President Joe Biden, Gaetz has warned McCarthy to stay out of the way.

Last week, Gaetz said that Republicans have to “seize the initiative.”

“That means forcing votes on impeachment. And if Speaker McCarthy stands in our way, he may not have the job long,” he said.

Gaetz raised the idea of working with his Democratic counterparts to remove McCarthy as speaker on Sunday in response to a X post from Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) accusing the Florida Republican of making “empty threats.”

“Gaetz folded like a cheap card table to make McCarthy speaker and will never—I repeat never—make a motion to remove McCarthy,” Swalwell wrote. “I do not work with serious people.”

Gaetz replied: “If I make a motion to remove Kevin, how may democrat votes can I count on? Asking for a friend….”

In a later post, Gaetz added that Democrats along with some Republicans could “quite easily” vacate McCarthy’s speakership and asked Swalwell if “all Democrats so willing.”

“Will my NorCal twitter troll have the courage and efficacy to become my dem whip??” he continued, referring to Swalwell. “If I’ll work with [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] to ban congressional stock trading I’ll absolutely work with [Swalwell] to rid the House of ineffective leadership. How many votes can you deliver against a Motion to Table a Motion to Vacate, eric? Asking for (many) friends!”

Gaetz is not the only House Republican mounting pressure against McCarthy—especially as a government shutdown looms and he may be forced to cut a deal with Democrats.

“The speaker faces two choices: He] stares down the Senate, stares down the White House, forces them to cave and is a transformational historic speaker … or he can choose to make a deal with Democrats,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) told POLITICO. He added that if McCarthy does the latter, “I don’t think that’s a sustainable thing for him as speaker.”

Most Democratic lawmakers probably wouldn’t be interested in working with Gaetz to oust McCarthy, however, some Democrats in January indicated making a motion to vacate McCarthy’s speakership wasn’t entirely off the table.

“Whenever we want to cause complete chaos, we’ll do that,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.).

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*First Published: Sep 11, 2023, 11:31 am CDT