There was a tense exchange between former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) at Thursday’s closed-door Republican conference meeting as Republicans continue to struggle to find a speaker.
The House has been without a speaker for two weeks after Gaetz led a successful effort to remove McCarthy from the position.
At Thursday’s meeting, McCarthy reportedly blamed Gaetz for the current chaos among House Republicans. When Gaetz tried to respond McCarthy told him to “sit your ass down.”
Axios reported that another lawmaker, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill) “was ready to lunge across the room.”
McCarthy later told reporters that he was speaking at the mic when Gaetz tried to interrupt, adding “I told him to sit down.”
Gaetz meanwhile is saying McCarthy “yielded” to him since he mentioned him by name during the conference meeting.
“He gets his Irish up sometimes,” Gaetz added. “I’m not a very emotional person. I’m a lawyer by trade, not a baker, and so I’m used to the presentation of arguments and the listening of arguments without getting hot under the collar.”
House Republicans met behind closed-doors for nearly four hours on Thursday to discuss a path forward. Their candidate for speaker, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has failed to secure the votes need to be elected on two ballots so far. His chances are also worsening on each ballot as the number of GOP lawmakers who oppose him grew on the second ballot.