With the government shutdown just two days away, House Republicans gathered behind closed doors Thursday to iron out their differences and build consensus to avert the crisis.
At least that was the plan before Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) blew up a House GOP conference meeting to instead demand an answer to his No. 1 question: Does Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA ) people for trolling me? on the Internet?
Conservative influencers have been observed attempting this support financially their negative media campaign against Gaetz, and there is evidence that McCarthy and his allies are behind it. But when the speaker was aggressively questioned in a conference session on Thursday, he claimed he had nothing to do with the trolling.
“I asked McCarthy a direct question: Have you been out there paying for people to try to create a false negative sentiment about me online?” Gaetz said The hill. “And his non-executive response was that he handed out two and a half million dollars to other Republicans over breakfast.”
McCarthy has denied any involvement in the social media campaign and reportedly told Gaetz that he was not worth the time or money.
The entire exercise underscores not only the significant divide between House Republicans, who have been unable to agree on even the most basic measures to keep the government funded, but also the wild seriousness of the debates that stand in the way of functioning government.
sources told CNN that House members mocked Gaetz after his outburst in session, calling him a “scumbag” and telling him to “fuck off” immediately.
The trolling allegations angered McCarthy so much that the speaker’s outside counsel, at his direction, filed a cease-and-desist letter to the influencer network behind the posts. Politico reported.
“This email informs you that you must immediately stop suing or we will pursue all legal remedies affecting the recovery of damages if warranted,” McCarthy’s attorney Elliot Berke wrote.
Gaetz has threatened McCarthy’s efforts to keep the government running at every turn, threatening a vote to remove the speaker if his demands and those of his far-right allies are not met.
The Florida Republican’s demands have doomed the prospect of the House moving forward with a bipartisan plan drawn up by the Senate to keep the government open, which McCarthy has vowed not to even vote on.
Instead, Republicans have chosen to continue tinkering with their own version of the spending package, which — even if they could overcome their differences and pass it — would be dead on arrival in the Senate.
As the prospect of a shutdown grows and Republicans fail to come up with their own plan, the federal government has done so began to inform workers that they may be among the millions of people who will not receive wages if the government grinds to a halt.