There is growing speculation that Matt Gaetz‘s move to oust Kevin McCarthy from the speaker’s office could backfire amid reports that a bipartisan group of around 10 Democratic and Republican representatives is holding discussions to break the deadlock.
McCarthy became the first speaker in U.S. history to be removed by a “motion to vacate,” filed by Gaetz, on October 3 when eight GOP hardliners voted with the Democratic caucus to bring him down. The move has thrown the House into chaos, leaving it unable to pass legislation with just weeks to go before a partial government shutdown unless more funding is approved by Congress.
On Thursday, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise dropped out of the race to succeed McCarthy, despite receiving the most backing from GOP lawmakers the day before. He said: “Our conference still has to come together and it’s not there.”
Donald Trump ally Jim Jordan, founding chair of the conservative Freedom Caucus, was selected as the new Republican nominee for the speaker’s office on Friday, despite having initially lost out to Scalise. However, it is far from clear that he has the requisite 217 votes to win. Due to the GOP’s wafer-thin House majority, just four of its members can block any Republican candidate for speaker, if they vote alongside a united Democratic caucus.
A group of about 10 representatives from both parties have held very serious discussions about a bipartisan deal to break the deadlock, per Axios news website. This could see Democrats back a moderate Republican as speaker in return for legislative or procedural concessions.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham shared the article on X, formerly Twitter, adding: “Exactly what I warned about on the [Ingraham] Angle the night of the McCarthy ouster. This is Matt Gaetz’s legacy. Congratulations!”
In response, Gaetz posted: “Breathe, Laura. This isn’t going to happen… Democrats won’t be empowered. The Speaker will be more conservative than McCarthy. And you will thank me when it’s over.” Newsweek has approached Rep. Matt Gaetz for comment by email.
Republican Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, who has a history of bipartisan working, said: “At this point, there are enough Republican and Democrats saying we’ve got to get this fixed.”
A similar sentiment was expressed by Maria Salazar, a Florida Republican representative generally considered to be on the party’s moderate wing. She said: “We’re open to anything that’s reasonable. Bipartisanship is not a sin.”
Mike Rogers, the Republican chair of the armed services committee, has called on the Democratic leadership to put forward its terms for a deal.
Blasting the minority party, along with the GOP rebels, for removing McCarthy, Rogers said: “They put us in this ditch along with eight traitors.
“We’re still the majority party, we’re willing to work with them, but they gotta tell us what they need.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has called for a bipartisan deal: “The House of Representatives has been broken by chaos, dysfunction and extremism. The only way out is to enter into an enlightened bipartisan coalition of the willing in order to get things back on track.”
Politico reporter Olivia Beavers said that one House Republican told her the dispute could see Jeffries elected to the speaker’s office, if a number of frustrated GOP representatives don’t turn up to vote against him. Beavers quoted them as saying: “What happens when Jordan forces us to the floor to try to pressure us and all of a sudden we don’t show up and Hakeem Jeffries is speaker cause he wanted to be a bully?”
There is reportedly also discussion about extending the powers of acting Speaker Patrick McHenry, so the House can pass a new assistance package for Israel, following the devastating Hamas attack of October 7.
Speaking to Bloomberg Television, Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican, commented: “I don’t think we’re gonna have any other option.”