Throughout the days-long process to elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as House Speaker amid opposition from within his own party, there were rumors of centrist Republicans and Democrats joining together to end the stalemate by electing a moderate Republican who would make power-sharing concessions to the Democratic minority.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a leader of the conservative opposition to McCarthy, shot that rumored compromise down as something that would never happen — and even promised to resign from Congress if it actually did, Business Insider reported.
“I will resign” if Dems vote for GOP candidate
Rep. Gaetz appeared Thursday evening on Fox News for a conversation with host Laura Ingraham, who raised the prospect of a bipartisan consensus effort to select an unspecified moderate Republican as House Speaker instead of McCarthy.
“That will not happen,” the Florida congressman said confidently in response to Ingraham’s concern over the possible but highly unlikely deal that would have empowered the Democratic minority and neutered the Republican majority for the next two years.
“Listen, I’m on the floor, Laura, and these 212 Democrats are going to vote for Hakeem Jeffries every single time,” he continued in reference to the new Democratic House Minority Leader from New York. “He is a historic candidate for them. They are not going to cleave off under any circumstance. I assure you of that.”
“If Democrats join up to elect a moderate Republican, I will resign from the House of Representatives,” Gaetz added. “That is how certain I am. I can assure your viewers: That won’t happen.”
GAETZ: If Democrats join up to elect a moderate Republican, I will resign from the House of Representatives. pic.twitter.com/Kpviaw6g5Z
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 6, 2023
McCarthy eventually won
Rep. Gaetz was eventually proven correct, as the entire Democratic caucus did indeed vote in lockstep for Minority Leader Jeffries on each successive ballot over the four days that it took for the House to select its next Speaker.
The Associated Press reported that after 15 rounds of ballots, McCarthy eventually surpassed a reduced majority threshold to be victorious after some of his critics had flipped to support his bid while a few others, such as Gaetz, simply voted “present” instead of for or against him.
That development only came after several days of negotiations behind closed doors that reportedly resulted in McCarthy making several significant concessions in order to try and win over, or at least quell the resistance from, the predominately conservative House Freedom Caucus members who opposed his speakership on principle.
Gaetz nominated Trump to be Speaker
As noted, Rep. Gaetz had been outspokenly at the forefront of the group of around 20 House Republicans who obstinately refused to back down and allow McCarthy to garner the votes necessary to be named as House Speaker.
Business Insider noted that prior to the first round of voting on Tuesday, Gaetz said of McCarthy on the House floor, “If you want to drain the swamp, you cannot put the biggest alligator in charge of the exercise,” and added, “I’m a Florida man and I know of what I speak.”
Fox News reported that during Thursday’s proceedings, Gaetz actually cast his vote in the seventh and eighth rounds of ballots for former President Donald Trump and later even delivered a brief speech during the eleventh round of ballots to formally nominate Trump to be in charge of the House of Representatives.
I’m formally nominating President Donald J. Trump for Speaker of the House.
Make the House of Representatives Great Again! pic.twitter.com/HZJ4Mqc1bi
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 5, 2023