WASHINGTON — Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) isn’t getting his way, so he’s now promising a government shutdown — or else he’s vowing to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the GOP leader in the House.
A day after Raw Story found two paper copies of Gaetz’s motion to vacate in one of the Capitol’s public restrooms, the Trump ally is now promising to officially challenge McCarthy’s power unless the speaker agrees to shut down the government.
“I want compliance. Whether or not Kevin McCarthy is speaker remains in his hands,” Gaetz told reporters outside the Capitol earlier today.
While Gaetz and some other members of the far-right Freedom Caucus oppose a short term measure to keep the government running – known as a continuing resolution or CR – they also oppose McCarthy reaching across the aisle.
Gaetz doesn’t just want spending cuts or, say, more border security — as other Republicans have demanded — the Trump ally wants votes on his pet projects, like term limits and a balanced budget amendment.
Gaetz says McCarthy has a choice: Bend to Gaetz’ will or fund the government relying on the support of Democrats.
“If Speaker McCarthy relies on Democrats to pass a continuing resolution, I would call the Capitol moving truck to his office pretty soon, because my expectation would be he'd be out of the speaker's office quite promptly,” Gaetz predicted.
Gaetz says a shutdown is now inevitable.
“We will have a government shutdown,” Gaetz said. “And it is absolutely Speaker McCarthy's fault. We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can't even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate. We were entirely in control of whether or not to be on schedule with single subject spending bills, and we didn't.”
McCarthy hasn’t thrown in the towel yet — though he knows the clock is quickly winding down on the government funding deadline.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). (AFP)
“It’s not September 30 — the game is not over,” McCarthy told the congressional press corps earlier today.
Back in January, Gaetz was a part of the once fringe right gang of Republicans who forced the House to vote 15 times on speaker before stepping out of the way and allowing McCarthy to take the helm. Gaetz says he’s now demanding McCarthy deliver on everything he promised at the raucous start of this increasingly raucous Congress.
“While spending is the real thrust of the January agreement, it is not the only element, I also am demanding an up or down vote on congressional term limits. I am demanding an up or down vote on a balanced budget amendment, and Speaker McCarthy has not been compliant with that,” Gaetz said. “He has not signaled a willingness to be compliant, even though those exact things are on a written agreement that Kevin McCarthy, essentially acquiesced to.”
“How much of this is personal?” Raw Story asked.
Gaetz refused to answer.
Upon learning Gaetz circulated his motion to vacate, more senior, conservative, if not alt-right, Republicans were aghast.
“Oh my God,” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) told Raw Story upon learning two copies of Gaetz’s resolution were left in a public restroom.
Democrats say they saw this one coming from day one of this 118th Congress.
“Well, they laid the foundation, and they've been successful in following it. It couldn't happen any other way. It was destined,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) told Raw Story.
In the House, Democrats are in the minority and have no real tools to force McCarthy to work with them. So they’re left standing on the sidelines as the GOP fights itself while driving the government bus off the proverbial cliff in real-time.
“It's going off the cliff. If they don't get their way, they're gonna shut the government down,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) told Raw Story. “It's really pretty remarkable that they don't want to govern and they don't know how to govern.”
While Gaetz and company now prepare for a government shutdown of their own making, Democrats aren’t smiling.
“What we're looking at right now is a collapse of government,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) told Raw Story. “This is not about shutdowns. I think this is historic. I really do. I don't think there's any example of your governing party — so-called – has lost the capacity to do anything. I don't know how this is gonna end up.”
While in one breath Gaetz blamed McCarthy, in another breath he admitted his role — if accidentally.
“I think that it would be a shutdown that we could endure,” Gaetz said. “We would have to own it.”