Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was reportedly blasted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday after he allegedly told House GOP members that he doesn’t care if the chamber elects Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), the incoming Democratic leader, as Speaker instead of McCarthy.
McCarthy told reporters that Gaetz, one of at least a dozen of hard-line conservative lawmakers aiming to prevent him from becoming Speaker, indicated he “doesn’t care” if Jeffries wins the gavel by a plurality of votes, denying the California Republican the top post.
“Last night, I was presented the only way to have 218 votes if I provided certain members with certain positions certain gavels to take over to chair committees, to have certain budgets, and they even came to the position where one Matt Gaetz said ‘I don’t care if we got a plurality, and we elect Hakeem Jeffries,’ and it hurts the new front-line members not to get reelected,” McCarthy said.
The statements came during a tense House GOP conference meeting before the full House meets to elect or not elect a new Speaker.
McCarthy singled out Gaetz in statements to reporters ahead of the vote, signaling that he would not back down from a confrontation.
Gaetz and the Reps. Ralph Norman , Matt Rosendale Andy Biggs, and Bob Good are leading the drive to prevent McCarthy from gaining the position he has wanted for over eight years.
Reps. Dan Bishop (R-NC), Lauren Boebert, and Scott Perry, the head of the House Freedom Caucus, have all stated they will vote against McCarthy in addition to the five members.
[READ MORE: Tuesday Vote to Serve as ‘Moment of Truth’ for Kevin McCarthy’s Political Career]