OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Several Republican lawmakers have responded to an extremely tense moment during another session to elect a new House speaker when a GOP member from Alabama had to be restrained after making a move toward Rep. Matt Gaetz.
A visibly angry and frustrated Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) had to be physically restrained after lunging at the Florida Republican on the House floor by other members late Friday as the drama to elect a new speaker continued to play out.
Cameras caught the moment that the GOP lawmaker lost his cool and moved quickly towards Gaetz, who continued refusing to back Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the speakership after a historic 14th ballot. It would take another — 15 ballots — for McCarthy to finally win the post after the House reconvened at 10 p.m. Friday night.
Fox News reported:
Gaetz was discussing with Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the possibility of backing him in the next vote and appeared to mouth the word “committee.”
Gaetz is currently on the House Armed Services Committee, which is chaired by Rogers. McCarthy appeared to agree and returned to his seat. Rogers, having witnessed the interaction, then walked up to Gaetz’s row and made a move toward him.
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., intervened and physically restrained Rogers, pulling him back by his shoulders in full view of C-SPAN’s cameras.
At one point, Rogers pointed at Gaetz and appeared to yell, “I won’t forget this!”
Early Saturday, a number of Republican lawmakers responded to the incident, with one of them intimating that GOP leadership would address the matter soon.
“Mike Rogers lost his temper and was basically going to, you know, put his hands on Matt,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a McCarthy ally, said, Fox News reported separately. “And it was actually Richard Hudson — grabbed Mike Rogers from behind and pulled him away.”
“So yeah, that was completely out of line. And then I’m sure it’ll be dealt with,” she added.
Rep. Tim Burchett saw the matter differently.
“I’m honestly – I’m not going to be threatened by anybody, and if somebody puts their hands on me, I will drop them like a bag of dirt,” he told reporters early Saturday. “I really will, man. That is not – I am not one to back down from a fight.”
Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina noted further, “Cooler heads prevailed in a really intense moment.”
“I’ve seen three or four moments like – that would even approach that in my 18 years, and that, that might have just taken the cake,” McHenry told the outlet.
Meanwhile, a video clip of a frustrated McCarthy confronting Gaetz after he first voted “present” during the 14th ballot went viral online late Friday:
🚨 BREAKING: Matt Gaetz votes present, leaving Kevin McCarthy one vote short of being confirmed as Speaker.
McCarthy is NOT happy 😂pic.twitter.com/dWcDjTQAVo
— Patriot Alerts (@alerts___) January 7, 2023
Some Republicans said the drama was worth it to secure a better rules package agreement regarding power from McCarthy.
“This is a really good rules package, and it’s good that we negotiated this for our system of government, and it’s great for the American people,” said Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.). “If we’re going to have self-government, we’ve got to show this” to the public.”
She also said she disagreed with Gaetz’s continuing to hold out support for McCarthy.
“I disagree with his position” of refusing to support McCarthy. “But that’s OK. We’re still going to be friends tomorrow after this is all said and done,” she said.
“There’s a point in time where you’ve got to give up on your position — after getting everything you want. … At that point, you’re not really negotiating. You’re more of a hostage-taker,” she noted further.
Earlier Friday, Gaetz threatened to resign from Congress if moderate Republicans struck a deal with Democrats to help elect McCarthy over the objections of House conservatives.
But that said, the Florida Republican also expressed confidence that all 212 Democrats would continue voting for Jeffries to be speaker after selecting him to become the leader of the party, replacing Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which turned out to be the case.