Tensions flared when Representative Matt Gaetz sunk Kevin McCarthy’s 14th effort to be elected speaker of the House.
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Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, was one of Kevin McCarthy’s biggest detractors. He is seen here pointing at McCarthy during a heated conversation.
Even by the heated standards of the tensions that flared among House Republicans during their four-day push to elect a speaker, what happened on the House floor around 11 p.m. on Friday stood out.
Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, had declined yet again to vote for Representative Kevin McCarthy of California on a 14th ballot, helping sink McCarthy’s chances at speaker that round.
With Republican lawmakers growing irritable after days of fruitless voting, a heated argument broke out between several of them. But Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama, a McCarthy ally who is in line to become the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, took it to another level when he stepped toward Mr. Gaetz and had to be restrained.
The dramatic moment was captured on C-SPAN’s video cameras, which, lacking the typical restraints placed upon them in a House with a speaker, were free to show whatever moments from the floor its operators deemed newsworthy.
Mr. Gaetz had emerged as the most outspoken critic of Mr. McCarthy, lambasting him in increasingly vitriolic and personal terms. He had mocked how Mr. McCarthy has “sold shares of himself” for power and called the Californian the “Lebron James of special interest fund-raising.”
At the same time, Mr. Gaetz had reportedly sought a subcommittee chairmanship in the House Armed Services Committee.
An Associated Press photographer captured the chaotic moment when Representative Richard Hudson, Republican of North Carolina, pulled Mr. Rogers back from confronting Mr. Gaetz.
Neither Mr. Gaetz nor a spokeswoman for Mr. Rogers immediately responded to requests for comment.
Mr. McCarthy would be elected speaker on the 15th ballot.
Mr. McCarthy downplayed the heated conversations that took place after the 14th ballot. “Oh nothing,” he told reporters who asked what happened. “I mean, we ended up with a tie, and he was able to get the others to be able to go present.”