Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said he will resign if Democrats strike a deal to hand a “moderate” Republican the speaker’s gavel.
The Florida congressman is confident Democrats will continue to support one of their own — paving the way for him and fellow defectors to continue voting against McCarthy’s speakership bid and pursue someone else who is “broadly trusted.”
“These 212 Democrats are going to vote for Hakeem Jeffries every single time. He’s an historic candidate. They’re not going to cleave off,” Gaetz told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Thursday when asked if he thought moderate Democrats would back McCarthy if they were promised co-control of House committees.
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“If Democrats join up to elect a moderate Republican, I will resign,” Gaetz continued.
Gaetz, who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has voted against McCarthy in each of the 11 ballots cast thus far. He has called McCarthy a “squatter” for already occupying the speaker’s office.
The Florida Republican noted that no concessions made by McCarthy will earn his vote.
“He’s the masthead of the lobby core. I resent to which Kevin McCarthy utilizes the lobbyists and the special interests to be able to dictate how political decisions are made. How policy decisions are made, how leadership decisions are made. Kevin McCarthy has been in the leadership for 14 years. He’s sold shares of himself to special interests, to political action committees, and that’s why I don’t think he’s right.”
Gaetz said he believes Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) could garner enough votes to win the speaker’s gavel if McCarthy were to step down.
“If Kevin McCarthy got out of this race, Jim Jordan would get into it,” Gaetz said. “And I believe he would win and invigorate our movement. He’s broadly trusted in every corner of the Republican Party and with a lot of our donors and supporters and activists. That’s the type of option if McCarthy bows out.”
He also said that if McCarthy does end up as Speaker of the House, he will “have to live the entirety of his speakership in a straitjacket constructed by the rules that we’re working on now.”
The House is set to resume the election for Speaker of the House Friday at noon.