Two firebrand House Republicans published dueling op-eds Thursday arguing for and against electing Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to be the next speaker of the House.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., friends and normally close allies in the Republican Party’s conservative flank, are uncharacteristically on opposite sides when it comes to McCarthy. They each stated their case in op-eds published in the Daily Caller, with Gaetz slamming McCarthy’s bid and Greene pointing out inconsistencies among the “Never-Kevin Caucus.”
“Every single Republican in Congress knows that Kevin does not actually believe anything. He has no ideology,” Gaetz wrote.
“Some conservatives are using this fact to convince themselves that he is the right leader for the moment, as McCarthy is so weak he’ll promise anything to anyone,” he charged.
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Gaetz is one of a handful of House Republicans who are outspoken in their demands for new leadership, along with Reps. Bob Good, R-Va., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Ralph Norman, RS.C., and Matt Rosendale, R-Mont. While the vast majority of the conference supports elevating McCarthy to speaker, these five have demanded that the California lawyer agree to several rules and procedural changes that would decentralize power in the House and make the next speaker more responsive to the rank-and-file.
For hardliners like Gaetz, that would mean restoring a rule to “vacate the chair” that conservatives previously used to force House Speaker John Boehner out of office in 2015, resulting in Paul Ryan becoming speaker as a compromise candidate after conservatives rejected McCarthy.
Gaetz pointed to several positions “Cavin’ McCarthy” took that conservatives have opposed, including sending $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, calling for a no-fly zone in Syria during the Obama administration, accusing former President Donald Trump of being a paid Russian plant , and voting to remove Confederate monuments from the Capitol building.
Gaetz also took shots at McCarthy for his relationship with Jeff Miller, a “confidant” and adviser who is a registered lobbyist for Apple and Amazon. He further blamed the Republican leader for the GOP’s disappointing 2022 midterm election results, noting that McCarthy predicted as large as a 20-plus seat majority when in reality Republicans will hold the House 222-213 in a nine-seat swing.
“In sports, when the team loses games it is supposed to win, the coach gets fired. In business, when earnings vastly miss projections, the CEO is replaced. In Republican politics, a promotion shouldn’t be failure’s chaser,” Gaetz argued .
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Greene said the conservatives opposed to McCarthy were making “empty promises” to voters for better leadership.
“Lying to the base is a red line for me, and that’s what five of my closest colleagues are doing when they claim a consensus House speaker candidate will emerge as they oppose Kevin McCarthy,” she asserted. “Here’s the reality: No one is running against Kevin McCarthy for speaker.”
The controversial lawmaker emphasized her bona fides as “the Democrats’ biggest political target” before launching into a full-throated endorsement of McCarthy to lead a Republican-controlled House.
“I’ve voted NO against the radical Democrat agenda, put Congress on record by forcing roll call votes, made procedural moves on the floor to stop bills and introduced America First legislation for all Republicans to support,” Greene wrote.
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“Perhaps more than any Republican, I am ready for our majority because I believe there is real work to be done to save our country. And the last thing I want is everything blown up on day one simply because a few dislike Kevin McCarthy, who is promoting the very agenda they believe in,” she added.
She went after the “Never Kevin Five” for inconsistencies in their opposition to McCarthy, calling them out by name.
“Let’s start with my dear friend, Matt Gaetz. Many of his attacks against Kevin McCarthy are comparisons to Paul Ryan. It’s quite ironic given Matt’s very first vote in Congress was for Paul Ryan as speaker. Even when we all knew Paul Ryan would never deliver the MAGA agenda,” Greene wrote, though she went on to call Gaetz “one of my favorite members of Congress.”
She hit Rep. Bob Good for taking $2 million from McCarthy for his first campaign for Congress in 2020 and turning around to oppose the prolific GOP fundraiser and leader. She said the other conservatives “are simply ‘Never Kevin’ without a plan for the American people.”
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Greene went on to argue that McCarthy’s staff is prepared to take on the speaker’s office and that changing leadership now would leave Republicans “ineffective and looking like failures” at the start of the next Congress. She also insisted that conservatives shouldn’t worry about McCarthy’s commitment to their agenda.
“Kevin McCarthy is no fool,” Greene concluded. “He isn’t going to promise things publicly if he isn’t willing or can’t deliver them.”
Congress will vote to elect a new speaker on Jan. 3. A nominee needs 218 votes to win the gavel.