Congress last week voted to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his leadership position after Gaetz, a Florida Republican, filed a motion to vacate the office—sending the House of Representatives into chaos. He filed the motion over McCarthy working with Democrats to pass a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown that he says violated promises McCarthy made to conservatives to secure their support in the House speaker race in January.
Gaetz has insisted on Congress passing an appropriations bill that would reduce government spending, warning that failing to address the national deficit, which sits at more than $30 trillion, would have economic repercussions for millions of Americans.
However, during an interview on NBC News’ Meet the Press, host Kristen Welker pressed Gaetz about his vote for the Trump tax cuts, the former president’s signature legislation that, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, is set to add $1.8 trillion to the national debt through 2029.
During his interview, Gaetz defended his battle against GOP leadership amid questions about whether he could be expelled from the Republican conference over the removal of McCarthy. He said he would continue fighting for his constituents, warning that failing to reduce government spending would drive up inflation and the national debt. He specifically pointed to a plan for the federal government to refinance $8 trillion in debt.
“Well, the voters of Florida’s First Congressional District sent me here with about 70 percent of the vote. So I think that anyone trying to kick me out of Congress because they didn’t like me would have a bone to pick with them. But think about what we’re saying. I’m the guy saying we need a budget,” he said.
Welker, however, questioned the representative’s voting record on the national debt.
“Congressman, respectively, you voted for those tax cuts under the Trump administration, which helped create that $8 trillion deficit that you’re talking about. Did you not? Is this not, as some of your critics would say, hypocritical, given that?” Welker asked.
Gaetz responded: “No, I voted against 10 continuing resolutions during the Trump era. I actually voted against the budget that created the platform for the reconciliation of those tax cuts because it didn’t balance. I agreed with Senator Rand Paul at the time that we should do the tax cuts with offsets and balanced budgets.”
Although Republicans have emphasized the need to reduce the national debt during the Biden administration, it rose by nearly $7.8 trillion during the Trump administration. The former president reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent in particular led to a loss of federal revenue, according to a ProPublica report in 2021.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report earlier this year found that extending the Trump tax cuts would add another $3.5 trillion to the national deficit by 2033.
Newsweek reached out to Gaetz’s office for comment via email