Tensions nearly boiled over into a physical altercation on the House floor Friday night amid the days-long fight among Republicans over former Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) opposed bid to be House Speaker.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), a close McCarthy ally, had to be restrained by one of his colleagues from seemingly attempting to physically assault Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who was staunchly opposed to McCarthy’s speakership bid, the Conservative Brief reported.
The question now becomes whether Rogers or anyone else will face any consequences or repercussions as a result of their unprofessional actions.
Near assault on House floor prevented
The incident occurred during the 14th of 15 rounds of ballots to elect a House Speaker that became necessary due to the obstinate opposition to McCarthy from around 20 House Republicans, including Gaetz.
Rogers’ anger at Gaetz appeared to be precipitated by Gaetz voting “present” in that round instead of either for or against McCarthy, which had the effect of denying McCarthy the final vote needed to clear the majority threshold.
Following a heated discussion between McCarthy and Gaetz themselves, a visibly perturbed Rogers approached and acted as though he intended to lunge at and possibly strike Gaetz, only to be swiftly restrained and pulled away by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC).
— Ellen McNamara (@Fox10Ellen) January 7, 2023
Of course, just a short while later, and with Gaetz once again voting “present,” McCarthy was nonetheless finally able to garner a sufficient number of votes to be elected as House Speaker on the 15th ballot.
“I’m sure it’ll be dealt with”
As for whether Rep. Rogers will face any consequences for his apparent attempt to start a physical altercation with Rep. Gaetz, Fox News reported that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who is largely aligned with Gaetz but also supported McCarthy’s bid to be Speaker, thinks there may be some sort of punishment meted out.
“Mike Rogers lost his temper and was basically going to, you know, put his hands on Matt. And it was actually Richard Hudson — grabbed Mike Rogers from behind and pulled him away,” Greene said. “So yeah, that was completely out of line. And then I’m sure it’ll be dealt with.”
“Cooler heads prevailed in a really intense moment,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said of the incident. “I’ve seen three or four moments like — that would even approach that in my 18 years, and that, that might have just taken the cake.”
Was alcohol involved?
Another member who weighed in on what happened was Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), though his take on the situation has been interpreted differently by both sides of the near conflict — and whose remarks seemed to suggest that alcohol may have been a key factor in the confrontation.
“People shouldn’t be drinking, especially when you’re a redneck, on the House floor,” Burchett said, according to CNN reporter Kate Sullivan, who also noted that Rogers is alleged to have made threats against the committee assignments and careers of the members opposed to McCarthy.
“I would drop him like a bag of dirt. Nobody’s gonna put their hands on me. Nobody’s gonna threaten me,” he continued in regard to Rogers. “It’s just one of those things — you’ve been around fights before, you’ve seen it. Some guy gets in your face and then it’s just an unfortunate moment is all it was. It shouldn’t have happened. He shouldn’t have crossed that line.”