(Mark Pellin, Headline USA) Following on the heels of three tumultuous rounds of U.S. House votes that ended Tuesday with an adjournment and no speaker, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., lobbed a social media grenade at embattled Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R- Calif., for occupying the speaker’s office without being duly elected to the position.
The Speaker of the House Office in the Capitol is currently being occupied by Kevin McCarthy.
Kevin McCarthy is not the Speaker of the House. He lost 3 consecutive votes today.
I’m demanding answers from the Architect of the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/AIZ8bFks6W
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 4, 2023
“What is the basis in law, House rule, or precedent to allow someone who has placed second in three successive speaker elections to occupy the Speaker of the House Office?” Gaetz wrote in a letter to J. Brett Blanton, architect of the Capitol. “How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter?
“Please write back promptly as it seems Mr. McCarthy can no longer be considered Speaker-Designate following today’s balloting,” he concluded.
Gaetz was among what ended Tuesday night as a growing contingent of Freedom Caucus-friendly Republicans who remained set against McCarthy taking the speakership. The opposition showed in the vote totals, with McCarthy drawing only 203 votes in two rounds of balloting, and slipping further in a third round, losing 20 votes, in a race that needs 218 to capture the speakership.
The House is slated to resume balloting at noon on Wednesday, and McCarthy showed no signs of backing down, claiming that former President Donald Trump had encouraged him to stay in the race to unify the party, reported the Associated Press.
That contrasted sharply with reporting from NBC News, which said when asked directly about his support for McCarthy, the former president declined to say if his previous endorsement stuck.
When I asked directly if he was sticking by McCarthy, who did not clinch the gavel today after three floor votes, Mr. Trump told me “we’ll see what happens,” and ended our conversation.
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) January 3, 2023
McCarthy was previously criticized for prematurely scuttling into the speaker’s office in the run-up to Tuesday’s session, a move roasted as a presumptuous slap to opposition and further proof of his establishment elitist leanings.
McCarthy, despite what critics are calling his premature occupation of the speaker’s office – a ‘house squatter’ in Gaetz’s parlance — appeared in no rush to decamp.
PIZZA on its way to MCCARTHY office…. Never a good sign pic.twitter.com/ie9jLj9mtc
— Haley Talbot (@haleytalbotnbc) January 3, 2023
“Members are talking. We’re walking through and I think we’ll find our way to get there,” McCarthy told reporters after Tuesday’s House adjournment without a gavel in his hand. “This is a healthy debate. It might not happen on the day we want it, but it’s gonna happen.”
Asked directly how he was was “willing to continue this battle?”, McCarthy didn’t sound like he was ready to vacate the speaker’s office any time soon.
“I don’t really see it as a battle. We’re not that far away,” he said. “We only need 11 more votes to win.”
Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts called the House tussle and speaker’s challenge a positive development.
“The Washington Establishment hates today’s House proceedings because it’s precisely the kind of disruption that threatens their grip on power,” he wrote about Tuesday’s session. “We need more of this if we want to re-establish regular order in Congress—and self-governance.”