McCarthy rips ‘chaotic’ GOP rebels led by Gaetz: ‘They are not conservatives’

In his first appearance since being ousted from the House speakership, Rep. Kevin McCarthy told reporters Tuesday night that hardline Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., “are not conservatives.”

“They voted against one the greatest cut in history that Congress has ever voted for 2 trillion, they voted against work requirements, they voted against NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) reform. They voted against border security — they don’t get to say they’re conservative because they’re angry and they’re chaotic,” McCarthy said. 

His comments come just hours after Gaetz introduced a motion to vacate McCarthy — and succeeded — with the help of hardliners in his own party and 208 House Democrat votes. McCarthy said he would not seek to be re-elected as speaker.

Hardline conservatives and Democrats voted in sync to seal the deal on Tuesday, as the vote to vacate commenced after an hour of passionate debate with McCarthy’s supporters and dissenters.

GAETZ TAKES VICTORY LAP AFTER HISTORIC VOTE TO BOOT MCCARTHY FROM HOUSE SPEAKERSHIP

Matt Gaetz, Kevin McCarthy

Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP, Al Drago/Bloomberg)

Gaetz introduced a motion to vacate on Monday night, accusing him of breaking the promises he made to win the speaker’s gavel in January. Meanwhile, Democrats condemned his “lack of interest in bipartisanship” and Republicans jabbing his failure to pass a government spending patch with additional border security provisions and not enough budget cuts. 

“I made a decision as speaker to keep the government open and I put something on the floor,” McCarthy said. 

MATT GAETZ INTRODUCES MOTION TO VACATE AGAINST HOUSE SPEAKER KEVIN MCCARTHY

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Then-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-California, speaks to reporters outside the Speakers Balcony at the U.S. Capitol Building on July 25. On Tuesday, McCarthy was ousted as House Speaker.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

McCarthy angered hardliners over the weekend when he passed a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open for 45 days, in order to avert a government shutdown and give lawmakers more time to cobble together 12 individual spending bills.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS CELEBRATE REPUBLICAN CHAOS AFTER HELPING GOP REBELS OUST SPEAKER MCCARTHY

Gaetz surrounded by media

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., talks to reporters just after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s last-ditch plan to keep the government temporarily open collapsed, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Democrats signaled early on Tuesday that they were not inclined to help McCarthy. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said before the vote: “Democrats are ready to find bipartisan common ground. Our extreme colleagues have shown no willingness to do the same. They must find a way to end the House Republican Civil War.”

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In January, it took 15 rounds of voting until McCarthy was elected.

Fox News’ Liz Elkind contributed to this report. 

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