Matt Gaetz Will Be ‘De Facto’ Speaker After McCarthy Concessions: Bannon

Steve Bannon, former adviser to former President Donald Trump, said Friday that Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, is essentially going to be the “de facto” House speaker in the next Congress.

His remarks come after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy offered a key concession to conservatives criticizing his speakership bid, CNN reported Friday, citing Republican sources who were familiar with the private conversations that McCarthy had with GOP lawmakers.

In a phone interview on Saturday, Bannon told Newsweek that there is “no chance” that Gaetz would be elected House speaker. However, he added the Florida Republican and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, together will be the “de facto” speakers or “the speaker in fact [but] not in actuality” of the House.

McCarthy, a California Republican, has conceded to reducing the threshold needed to push for a floor vote, known as the motion to vacate, by members to remove a sitting speaker. The House GOP leader hopes that this move will help him gain support from his critics.

Matt Gaetz Will Be 'De Facto' Speaker:Bannon
Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, speaks at a news conference on January 6 in Washington, D.C. Steve Bannon, former adviser to former President Donald Trump, predicted on Friday that Gaetz is essentially going to be the “de facto” speaker of the House.
Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Members of the House Freedom Caucus have long been pushing for that concession, which would weaken McCarthy’s standing if he does become speaker, according to Politico.

During his internal discussions with lawmakers, McCarthy seemed open to a five-person threshold, according to CNN. The GOP House majority is now expected to call for a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair, with some conservatives pushing for a single member to force such a vote.

Moderate Republicans might think that the five-person threshold is too low, however, and could possibly lean towards a 50-person threshold. But, conservative GOP members, including Gaetz and Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina, think a five-person threshold is too high.

Norman told CNN that he thinks that the so-called motion to vacate threshold should be down to two or less, while Gatez said that McCarthy should get that number down to one.

Gaetz is one of the Republicans who oppose McCarthy’s bid for speakership, previously saying that the GOP leader is not fully meeting the party’s goals.

Meanwhile, Greene recently expressed her support for McCarthy and vowed to vote for him—a move that one political expert, Joseph Uscinski, said is meant to help her have more influence in Congress.

Bannon on Saturday outlined some of the possible reasons why some GOP lawmakers are criticizing McCarthy.

“The issue with Kevin, it’s not that people don’t like him, Kevin is very well liked. It has nothing to do with that,” Bannon told Newsweek. “It has to do with really, what does the Republican Party stand for. What does MAGA stand for and how we’re going to sort this situation out?” MAGA is an acronym for “Make America Great Again” that Trump repeatedly used at his rallies as a campaign slogan.

Bannon added that one of the big concerns that McCarthy’s critics have is what he really stands for.

“Over the last 48, 72 hours, people are saying, ‘Well hold it. This guy is prepared to give away things he’d never said [he would],'” Bannon said.

He added that McCarthy “under no circumstances” will “ever take the speakership” while having “to do it by giving up motion to vacate, because he would never really have the freedom to do what he wants to do.”

The former Trump adviser described the discussion around the speakership as a “proxy war” between the “corporatist” side of the Republican Party and the “populace face of MAGA.”

“That’s what this fight is about,” he said. “And it’s exemplified by obviously the hard-right versus…the corporate wing of the party.”

Newsweek reached out to McCarthy’s office for comment.

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