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Matt Gaetz vows to continue speaker stalemate until McCarthy concedes or limits power

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., right, talks with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, during a sixth round of voting in the House chamber as the House meets for a second day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon/AP

Matt Gaetz vows to continue speaker stalemate until McCarthy concedes or limits power

Cami Mondeaux

January 05, 08:49 AM January 05, 08:49 AM

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One of Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s most stubborn opponents in his House speaker bid is vowing not to fold and to continue the current stalemate until the California Republican either agrees to the defectors’ demands or drops out altogether.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who has been one of McCarthy’s most vocal opponents, pledged not to back down in the House speaker showdown, intensifying what has already been a dayslong fight as the chamber looks to elect its next leader. The House is set to reconvene at noon on Thursday for its third day of leadership elections after lawmakers adjourned the night before without selecting a speaker.

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“I think this ends one of two ways,” Gaetz told Fox News after the House adjourned on Wednesday. “Either Kevin bows out, realizing there is no path to become speaker of the House even with one or two or three or five of the 20 who have opposed him half a dozen times on the floor, or he essentially has to wake up, bring the House into session, and put on a straitjacket with a rules package that we’ve presented to him that doesn’t allow a lot of discretion for the speaker of the House.”

After failing to make headway in three rounds of roll call votes on Wednesday, McCarthy proposed a new bout of concessions to some of his most stubborn opponents in a last-ditch effort to win their support before the chamber reconvenes. As part of his latest concessions, McCarthy agreed to a proposal to add more Freedom Caucus members to the House Rules Committee, as well as further lowering the number of members needed to call for a floor vote to oust a sitting speaker, according to CNN.

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The compromise builds on previous concessions in which McCarthy agreed to lower the number of votes needed to oust him from the position possibly should he be elected, marking a significant win for far-right conservatives such as Gaetz.

“The reason we’ve demanded that is we do not trust Kevin McCarthy, and it’s not a small body of work,” the Florida Republican said.

Even if those demands are met, however, Gaetz has vowed not to back McCarthy’s bid.

“I’m not voting for McCarthy, but there are some of the 20 who I suspect might if we got control of the Rules Committee and the Appropriations Committee,” Gaetz said. “If things stand as they are, I suspect the opposition will only grow.”

Twenty GOP lawmakers voted against McCarthy to back Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) in the latest round of voting, with one Republican voting present. Donalds initially voted for McCarthy in the first two roll call votes before backing Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in the third round on Tuesday, conceding that “at the end of the day, we’ve got to get to 218.”

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