Gaetz’s motion to vacate the speakership succeeded in a vote of 216-210 on Tuesday, with a total of eight Republicans voting in favor. McCarthy on Monday night urged Gaetz to “bring it on” after the motion was filed following weeks of threats.
Shortly after McCarthy was removed, Gaetz told reporters that Republicans had broken “the fever” of his leadership and shot down the notion that the California congressman could again seek the speakership, which took him 15 rounds of voting to secure in January.
“I think Kevin McCarthy should take a hint,” said Gaetz. “After 15 ballots to become speaker, after eight months of a failed speakership and after removal in this historic manner, I think we should move on and find somebody else.”
“I think that this represents the ripping off of the Band-Aid,” he added. “And that’s what we need to do to get back on track.”
Newsweek reached out for comment to McCarthy’s office via email on Tuesday.
Gaetz also said that some Republicans were “in the stages of grief” regarding McCarthy’s ouster, before going to float several names as potential replacements for the ex-speaker.
“I think the world of [House majority leader] Steve Scalise, I think he’d make a phenomenal speaker,” Gaetz said. “He’d be the type of person that I could see myself supporting. There are many people, though.”
“I could see myself supporting [House majority whip] Tom Emmer,” he continued. “I could see myself supporting Mike Johnson of Louisiana. I could see myself supporting Jodey Arrington of Texas. I could see myself supporting Kevin Hern of Oklahoma.”
Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina immediately succeeded McCarthy as speaker pro tempore just after the vote was completed, having been selected by the outgoing speaker as his temporary replacement in January.
It is unclear who might take on the role in a more permanent capacity. McHenry has been floated as a possible candidate for the job, alongside the lawmakers mentioned by Gaetz and others like GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and House Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole.
However, Republicans will need to be united in supporting a successful replacement candidate due to their slim majority. That might be a tall order, given all of the recent GOP infighting and chaos in the House.
While Jeffries is very unlikely to become speaker due to the Republican majority, there is a remote possibility that a moderate candidate could take on the role if a deal were to be made with a bipartisan coalition.