Will Matt Gaetz's push to oust Kevin McCarthy backfire on him?

Some Republicans are calling for the Florida Republican to be expelled from the House

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
Gaetz had little Republican support when it came to ousting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy
(Image credit: Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is seeking a new job title after being booted from his role as speaker of the House after less than a year. The controversial effort led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) represents the first time in American history that a speaker was removed from their role.

Gaetz, a far-right politician who is a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, was among the loudest voices calling for McCarthy to be ousted after the speaker hedged a last-minute deal with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. The Florida politician introduced a motion to vacate the speaker's chair, which passed 216-210 after eight Republicans, mostly members of the far-right Freedom Caucus, joined all Democrats in voting to remove McCarthy.

Given that the majority of Republicans stood by McCarthy — and voted against removing him from the speakership — many GOP members have expressed anger at Gaetz for throwing the chamber into disarray. A number of them have called for the ramping up of investigations into the congressman, and traditional Republicans have even expressed an interest in expelling him from the House. Will Gaetz survive his far-right push to oust McCarthy, or will GOP backlash be his downfall?

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Gaetz has become 'actively destructive'

"There has to be consequences" when behavior like Gaetz's crosses the line, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich opined for The Washington Post. The Florida congressman has "become actively destructive to the conservative movement" and is "destroying the House GOP’s ability to govern."

Gingrich said he agreed with another former House speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who told CNN that Gaetz's only goal in Congress was "to get on TV and to raise money on the internet." Gingrich, a staunch traditional conservative, added that Gaetz was "simply violating the rules in the pursuit of personal attention and fundraising" because he "knows he can’t possibly get a majority of the House GOP conference to his side."

While McCarthy had "grown increasingly unpopular among the farthest-right flank of his party," Republicans "are definitely starting to sour on Gaetz," Tori Otten wrote for The New Republic. Gaetz is currently under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct, campaign finance violations, and more, and House GOP members "are prepared to expel [him] should the investigation find that Gaetz is guilty of the complaints filed against him," Brandon Girod reported for the Pensacola News Journal

Gaetz's Republican Party "not only loses a lot, it loses at the basic blocking and tackling of politics," Jim Geraghty opined for National Review. Writing for the notably conservative magazine, Geraghty referred to Gaetz as being from "(R-Newsmax)" given his propensity for television spots, adding that if the GOP leadership fight were to drag on, "you wonder whether five, 10 or 15 of the more moderate House Republicans might want to teach Gaetz and the 'knucklehead caucus' a hard lesson."

The congressman is a "Republican loudmouth who’s convinced this time will be different" in regard to a government shutdown, "and that he’s got the messaging that will persuade a majority of the public," Geraghty added. While Gaetz may not end up being expelled, "those who do not study history are not just doomed to repeat it; they’re destined to infuriate the rest of us who do remember its lessons."

A move to expel Gaetz 'will not be tolerated'

Any push from the mainline GOP to expel Gaetz from the House "will not be tolerated" by Republican voters, the notably far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Despite this notion, the congresswoman broke with Gaetz on removing McCarthy from the speakership, despite the two often being aligned ideologically. Greene wrote that while "things must change," getting rid of McCarthy would give "the upper hand to the Democrats."

While acknowledging that Gaetz would likely not be expelled from the House, his move "will [not] effectively create the changes needed to solve the intentional systemic failure that [creates] the annual never-ending CRs and Christmas omnibus mega spending packages," Greene wrote in a separate post

Others, though, such as Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), said that he "cannot conceive of a more counterproductive and self-destructive course" than Gaetz's. He added that the "supreme irony is that this is being initiated by self-described conservatives" like Gaetz, but also did not propose taking action against him. 

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