BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy joined NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday to weigh in on the House Speaker race and the divided Republican party.
The political feud between McCarthy and Florida Republican Matt Gaetz — which has had increasingly personal swings — was in full bloom during the Bakersfield congressman’s Sunday NBC appearance.
Gaetz is the lawmaker who introduced the motion to vacate McCarthy. McCarthy blamed a select few, especially Gaetz, for the congressional chaos and twice mentioned the infamous ethics investigation against the Florida congressman.
An investigation was launched against Gaetz in 2021 for alleged sexual misconduct, illegal drug use and misuse of campaign funds, among other allegations.
“[Gaetz] has chosen with no plan, concerned about an ethics complaint that was registered against him in the last Congress, to try to go and move and shut it down,” McCarthy said. “This is a wrong approach, it’s brought chaos, the Democrats went along with it… [The investigation] must be rather serious to put this much jeopardy into this nation.”
On whether he bears any blame for a House paralyzed, McCarthy answered that he’d accept the blame for “keeping the government open and voting for the troops.”
Throughout the interview, the congressmember again defended his agreeing to a bipartisan deal that has, for now, prevented a government shutdown, but let to his ouster.
While negotiating votes to become Speaker back in January, McCarthy lowered the threshold needed to file a motion to vacate a speaker to just one vote, instead of a party majority. On whether he regrets giving Gaetz such a power to oust him, McCarthy avoided a direct answer, instead saying, “You don’t have that choice.”
Additionally, when asked why there’s still no House leader if, as McCarthy himself has said, there are so many things to get done, he again redirected the focus to Gaetz and his misguided priority.
“Well, I think, why wouldn’t it be the case that I’m still in the job,” McCarthy said with a chuckle. “Unfortunately, we have eight people, led by Gaetz, that put something different in their belief…”
McCarthy again blamed Gaetz for the embarrassingly divided GOP.
The GOP will vote on their new nominee Tuesday morning, and there will be a formal Speaker vote with both parties later in the day. McCarthy is endorsing House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota.
“This is not a moment in time to play around with, to learn on the job. We need someone who understands how to do this job,” McCarthy also said on “Meet the Press.”
But McCarthy, again, did not rule out a re-run for the speakership post, despite being pressed multiple times by moderator Kristen Welker. His name still hangs over the speaker’s chamber.
When asked whether he is a MAGA Republican, McCarthy responded, “I am a conservative Republican from the beginning to the end, and that’s what I’ve always been. You can try to phrase different names to people, but I’m proud of who I am.”