McCarthy: Gaetz Forced Johnson-Dems Alliance

Kevin McCarthy | Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The only House speaker ever voted out of the position said the man who led his ouster is reaping the consequences of having allied with the Democrats to give him the boot.

Kevin McCarthy, whose speakership ended when a group of House Republicans led by Matt Gaetz (R-FL) forced his ouster, made the claim on Fox News’ MediaBuzz on Sunday. He claimed the “Gaetz Eight” had broken the Republican caucus by allying with Democrats to overcome their own party’s majority.

As The Dallas Express reported at the time, Gaetz’s rebel faction used a special procedural concession it negotiated in exchange for McCarthy assuming the speakership to later force his ouster. They accused McCarthy of negotiating a debt-ceiling bill that they said conceded too much to President Joe Biden.

McCarthy, who is no longer in Congress, took issue with host Howard Kurtz’s suggestion that Marjorie Taylor Greene was making the same tactical error by calling on Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to resign. McCarthy noted that Greene proposed a debate within the party instead of forcing the speaker out through a point of privilege.

“I think they’re in disarray, but it stems from those eight [Republicans] working with all the Democrats. … The Gaetz Eight. But they worked with all the Democrats to decide who could be speaker, and since then, what has transpired? So, the conference is broken because they never dealt with those eight, and until they do, it [will] stay broken,” McCarthy said, per Fox News.

“Marjorie didn’t do what Matt Gaetz did. She didn’t make this privilege. She’s making it an issue for a debate. Now, I think they should keep it internal. They should have their discussion. Look, being speaker is not easy. Otherwise, maybe I’d still be there,” he said.

McCarthy alleged that what really drove Gaetz to oppose his speakership was not how he negotiated the debt ceiling bill but that McCarthy did not stop an ethics investigation that the Florida congressman claimed was baseless and politically driven.

The former speaker then referred back to Gaetz’s fellow Florida congressman Byron Donaldson’s comment last week, per the Daily Beast, that “Matt [Gaetz’s] vacating Kevin McCarthy has brought us to Lord of the Flies on Capitol Hill. Not a good situation.”

“What Matt Gaetz did has broken the Republican majority. He’s now created ‘Lord of the Flies.’ Ask anybody inside our conference; they actually know it,” McCarthy said, echoing Donaldson.

DX reached out to Gaetz for a response to McCarthy’s claim about the Florida congressman’s motives. In a statement, Gaetz told DX, “Kevin is a liar. Which, actually, is why he isn’t speaker. Just ask any of the 224 people who voted to remove him.”

McCarthy suggested that Johnson’s allying with Democrats over the weekend to overcome a majority within his own party opposed to the Ukraine aid package was a ripple effect of his own removal as speaker.

“I think Republicans have learned from that that probably wasn’t the best idea. I think the outcome that they have now, they realize it wasn’t a smart idea. That’s what Byron and others are saying,” he said.

McCarthy also criticized Johnson’s tactics in bringing the Ukraine bill up for a vote without tying it to securing the U.S. border. Responding to the speaker’s claim the House had already passed a border bill, McCarthy said that means nothing since the Republican minority in the Senate does not have the leverage to pass it, much less to get it signed into law by Biden.

“You’ve got to think strategically. You’ve got to use the power of the speakership. It’s the only [Republican] majority. If the border is the number one issue, don’t sit back. We passed HR 2. But they, in essence, let the Senate Republicans negotiate. They’re in a minority position. The Speaker should negotiate directly with the president,” he said.

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