March 25, 2023

GOP BAD BLOOD: Here’s what caused the physical altercation between Mike Rogers and Matt Gaetz

McCarthy & the GOP BAD BLOOD: Here's what caused the physical altercation between Mike Rogers and Matt Gaetz

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During the first contentious House speaker contest in a hundred years, things got very testy as Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to secure enough votes through the first fourteen ballots.

Following that fourteenth poll, McCarthy decided to approach holdout Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who had previously been talking with one of the key figures behind the McCarthy contingent, Patrick McHenry (R-NC).

Gaetz’s rather dramatic vote of “present” had caused McCarthy to fall just short – by one vote – in the last round, and McCarthy was evidently looking to try to make some headway.

Though almost certainly perturbed, he approached Gaetz calmly, as the younger congressman sat watching everything unfold beside ally Lauren Boebert (R-CO).

Gaetz soon became animated as McCarthy and others evidently tried to air their grievances against him and lobby him to switch his vote.

He started pointing at both McCarthy and the well, making it clear whom he considered to blame for all the turmoil.

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Enter Mike Rogers (R-AL), the Alabama Crimson.

Rogers was steamed and apparently looking for blood.

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According to POLITICO, which spoke with various GOP reps about the incident, the root of Rogers’s anger stems from a bargaining maneuver that would have made Gaetz the head of a subcommittee on the committee Rogers now chairs, House Armed Services.

The Alabama Crimson was tired of having to make concessions to the Republican disrupters, and he was going to do something about it.

As McCarthy stepped away, Rogers stepped up. Then, in one sudden motion, he lunged toward Gaetz in anger, having to be restrained by fellow Republican rep, Richard Hudson (R-NC).

Kate Sullivan of CNN later tweeted about what immediately preceded Rogers’s lunge:

Burchett (R-TN) added a bit of braggadocio himself:

Yet the Tennessee congressman later reflected to Jim Acosta that it may have that tempers may have already been raised by the lateness of the hour and the House’s failure to elect a speaker. Gaetz was requesting more time to review the rules, and the last thing many of them wanted was further delay.

Regardless, it was a wild scene, somewhat reminiscent of the much more violent attack by Representative Preston S. Brooks on Charles Sumner in the Senate chamber in 1856. Other lawmakers looked on in utter shock, including McCarthy, who was caught completely unawares.


Things were quickly brought back under control and order was restored.

No word yet on whether Rogers will be censured in any way.

As for why such hatred exists between Gaetz and McCarthy – or, perhaps more accurately, why Gaetz hates McCarthy so much – it seems to redound to two factors, one political, the other more personal.

Gaetz has legitimate policy differences with McCarthy, as do many other members of the Freedom Caucus.

All of them were fed up with the concentration of power in the House that began back in the 1990s with Newt Gingrich and that has only grown more restrictive.

They also objected to large omnibus bills and other legislation that they were often expected to vote on without having appropriate time to read: they wanted more individualized bills.

And they wanted more House committee positions.

McCarthy made deals to address these issues, promising that any representative could call for a no-confidence vote; that he would extend bill-reading times and allow for smaller, more individualized bills; and that he would place Freedom Caucus members on more committees, including the all-important Rules Committee.

But Gaetz’s enmity persisted, though he admitted that the Freedom Caucus had gotten practically everything it wanted.

That could be because Gaetz has another reason to despise McCarthy: According to Rolling Stone, during the time that Gaetz was being investigated by the feds for possible involvement in a sex-trafficking ring, he felt that McCarthy did not do nearly enough to support him.

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It’s a wound, apparently, that still festers, and that Gaetz will never forget.

So Gaetz did everything he could to obstruct McCarthy, even going so far as to send a letter to the Architect of the House complaining that McCarthy had prematurely moved into the speaker’s office.

Though McCarthy managed to win the speakership in the end, it’s likely that these two will continue to battle well into the future, despite both being Trump sycophants.

Frat Boy Matt and Slimy Kevin probably do agree on one thing: hatred of Ross. But you can show Ross some much-needed love on Twitter by clicking on @RossRosenfeld and following him there.

Ross Rosenfeld

is a news analysis and opinion writer whose work has also appeared in the New York Daily News and Newsweek. He lives in New York.

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