Republicans couldn’t save Kevin McCarthy, but some are hoping to avenge him.
GOP lawmakers spent much of Wednesday promising to strike back against Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. and the seven other rebels who ousted the speaker a day earlier.
“I think Matt would be a great dictator in a small island nation in the Pacific or something, that’s probably the best next step for him,” Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. told Semafor. “I do think there should be repercussions.”
McCarthy’s aggrieved allies have floated a range of punishments. Some like Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., are urging that the anti-McCarthy insurgents be stripped of their committee assignments. Rep. Mike Lawler, R-NY, told reporters he believed Gaetz should be expelled from the GOP conference for “disgraceful” conduct. That idea drew a big endorsement from former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“Gaetz is an anti-Republican who has become actively destructive to the conservative movement,” Gingrich recently wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
It’s not uncommon for House GOP leaders to seek retribution against members who cross leadership or buck the party in major votes. In 2015, then-Speaker John Boehner booted a pair of GOP lawmakers off the prestigious Rules Committee after they didn’t back his speakership bid. One of them, Rep. Richard Nugent, was barred from enjoying perks like traveling on Congressional delegations abroad as well.
There are signs that outside groups and members of Congress are mobilizing against the rebels as well. Americans for Tax Reform, the anti-tax group helmed by Grover Norquist, took out a statewide ad buy against Gaetz in Florida. “Matt Gaetz would rather promote himself than protect taxpayers from runaway government spending,” the ad said.
An ATR spokesperson told Semafor the radio and digital ad buy’s price tag was in “the high six figures,” and the organization was considering others.
The View From The Senate
Republican Senators have been opening fire at Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., an anti-McCarthy insurgent considering a second run for the upper chamber, who recently said that he prayed for Republicans to win a small majority in the 2022 midterms because it would give conservatives more leverage.
“Maryland Matt Rosendale prays for Democrats to win elections? Did God answer his prayers in 2018 when Jon Tester humiliated him?” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. “This is just one of many, many reasons that Maryland Matt won’t come within a country mile of the Senate.” (Rosendale moved to Montana from Maryland in 2002).
GOP Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla. a close friend of McCarthy’s, vowed to help the NRSC-backed Tim Sheehy in the Montana primary.
“If Matt Rosendale tries to get in that [primary], I’ll be doing everything to defeat him,” Mullin told Semafor. “Matt Rosendale does not need to be anywhere in public office.”