As the conflict over naming the next GOP Speaker of the House boiled over into a second full day on Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) defended his position against voting for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-CA) as the top House officer.
By Wednesday evening, the House membership failed for the sixth consecutive vote to name a new Speaker. The number of Republicans who refused to vote for McCarthy rose from Tuesday to Wednesday from 20 to 21.
Gaetz has had a close relationship with President Donald Trump since he was first elected to Congress in 2016. However, when Gaetz was told on Wednesday that President Trump reaffirmed his support for McCarthy as Speaker, the Florida representative reaffirmed his opposition to the GOP caucus nominee.
In a statement, Gaetz said in response to being told of President Trump’s position: “Sad! This changes neither my view of McCarthy, nor Trump, nor my vote.”
Gaetz also publicly criticized President Trump for his endorsement of McCarthy.
He tweeted Wednesday morning that “supporting McCarthy is the worst Human Resources decision President Trump has ever made.”
Supporting McCarthy is the worst Human Resources decision President Trump has ever made.
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) January 4, 2023
Gaetz has emerged as one of the leaders of the House Freedom Caucus group that voted against McCarthy over the first two days of the new Congress. That group has voted for several alternative candidates, primarily Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Byron Donalds (R-FL).
After Jordan made it clear he was not interested in the position on Tuesday, the group of McCarthy opponents shifted their support for Donalds in all three votes held on Wednesday. Gaetz praised Jordan for his leadership in refusing the nomination for Speaker.
Trump made several posts to his Truth Social account on Wednesday, commenting on the process and his support for McCarthy. He wrote: “Some really good conversations took place last night, and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN.”
However, in a separate post late Wednesday evening, Trump offered praise for the Freedom Caucus members who were forcing ongoing negotiations by McCarthy to secure their support.
Very good things are happening behind the scenes for the Republican Party. Intense but Smart negotiations between GREAT and PATRIOTIC people are ongoing. They all love our Country, and want something to go forward, ASAP. This “event” will end up making the Republican Party STRONGER and more UNITED than ever before. OUR NATION IS AT STAKE. Stay tuned and, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
McCarthy has consistently polled 202 or 201 votes from the majority of Republican members. All 212 Democrats voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) in all six votes through Wednesday evening. Even though Jeffries received more votes than McCarthy, the Constitution requires a majority of all votes cast to elect the Speaker.