Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has broken his silence following a confrontation with fellow Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama on Friday amid a tense late-night session to elect a speaker.
Gaetz had voted “present” during the 14th round of balloting, denying GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California the speakership by one vote. That apparently upset Rogers, who appeared to lunge toward Gaetz after the Floridian and McCarthy had some words. Rogers had to be restrained by another GOP member.
“@RepMikeRogersAL and I have a six-year productive, working relationship,” Gaetz tweeted. “We’re going to work together wonderfully going forward. I don’t think there should be any punishment or reprisal just because he had an animated moment. He has my forgiveness.”
Rogers responded: “@RepMattGaetz and I have a long and productive working relationship, that I am sure will continue. I regret that I briefly lost my temper on the House Floor Friday evening and appreciate Matt’s kind understanding.”
.@RepMattGaetz and I have a long and productive working relationship, that I am sure will continue. I regret that I briefly lost my temper on the House Floor Friday evening and appreciate Matt’s kind understanding. https://t.co/8GmbJHO3cK
— Mike Rogers (@RepMikeRogersAL) January 8, 2023
Gaetz’s tweet also contained a video clip of an interview he did with Fox News following the incident in which he explained that he and Rogers are friends and will continue working together.
“Mike Rogers is going to be a terrific chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and we share a deep commitment to our national defense, to our men and women in uniform,” he said. “Of course, in a late-night moment of high drama, people can have moments of frustration.”
Later, in an interview with the New York Post, Gaetz explained why he and 19 other Freedom Caucus conservatives held out for days after the 118th Congress began with the new Republican majority in order to get several rule changes pushed through, most of which McCarthy agreed to.
“I feel like the American people won. I feel that the House of Representatives will be a healthier institution,” Gaetz told the Post. “Many of these things had been resisted by Kevin McCarthy as early as Monday and now we have an exquisite rules package.”
Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), who ran against McCarthy for the GOP leadership position in 2015, said on Friday he believes the new speaker “will do great” as well.
“Kevin will do great with these rules changes,” Webster told Newsmax’s John Gizzi. “He’s agreed to all the things I ran on in the speaker’s race in ’15.”
Noting McCarthy’s agreement to make it easier for members to propose a “motion to vacate” the chair, which would set the stage for the immediate election of a new Speaker, Webster observed: “It’s fantastic. Speakers will come and speakers will go, but this will always be there to keep them following the will of the members. If your motivation is power, I suppose you won’t like it. If your motivation is governance, you will.”