Matt Gaetz, MAGA loyalist, agrees with Democrats: McCarthy 'lied' to Biden on budget deal

Matt Gaetz
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida on January 3, 2023.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz has been vowing to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

  • McCarthy bucked some House conservatives by agreeing to a stopgap funding measure on Saturday.

  • On Sunday, Gaetz accused McCarthy of lying to both House conservatives and President Joe Biden.

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz says rank-and-file Democrats are totally right: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is a liar.

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, hours after a last-minute deal was reached to avert a government shutdown, Gaetz — a close ally of former President Donald Trump — promised that this week he would try to oust McCarthy from his position as leader of the GOP-controlled chamber.

"I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy," Gaetz told CNN's State of the Union. The lawmaker, who has his own history of making false claims, maintained that "everybody" shares his lack of faith in the Republican leader.

"[N]obody trusts Kevin McCarthy," Gaetz said. "He lied to Biden, he lied to House conservatives."

Under the deal reached late Saturday night, the Republican-led House agreed to fund the government for another 45 days, ensuring soldiers and federal workers continue to receive pay — but omitting any funds for Ukraine, a majority of GOP lawmakers having earlier voted against any more military aid.

That came after McCarthy, this spring, agreed to a separate deal with the White House that was sold to the public as preventing the very brinkmanship seen this past week. As The Washington Post reported at the time, the bipartisan compromise would — by way of steep cuts in future spending — help Congress avoid partisan gridlock and "a government shutdown this fall."

But McCarthy soon after claimed he'd only accepted caps on federal spending and, in a concession to far-right members of his caucus, argued that Republicans could go even further in imposing cuts on non-defense spending.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, like other Democrats, accused McCarthy this week of breaking his word.

"Remember, bipartisan majorities agreed to funding levels back in June. The leaders of the House, the Senate, the White House, we all shook hands on this deal, but now the speaker, and only the speaker, is going back on his word," the New York lawmaker said Thursday.

McCarthy, by agreeing to a stopgap funding measure on Saturday, ultimately bucked his party's most conservative members — calculating, as Gaetz and other hard-right Republicans see it, that his speakership could survive even if he sided with the very Democrats who were calling him a liar days earlier.

A spokesperson for McCarthy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in an appearance on CBS's Face the Nation, the House speaker said he wasn't worried about Gaetz's threat to his leadership.

"I'll survive," McCarthy said, accusing Gaetz of preferring media attention to the challenge of governing. "He's more interested in securing TV interviews than doing something."

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