Internal GOP Scandal Mars McCarthy’s First Days as House Speaker

A scandal has erupted inside the Republican Party, marring House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s first days at the new job.

Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida viciously cursed at McCarthy after losing the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee in the lower chamber of Congress.

Fight Almost Broke Out Between Buchanan, McCarthy

The GOP still won a majority in the House of Representatives, albeit a slim one – with 222 seats to the Democrats’ 213.

The already smaller-than-anticipated GOP victory was married in early January by the emergence of internal opposition from 20 members of the House Freedom Caucus who adamantly opposed McCarthy.

McCarthy was thus only elected on the 15th ballot after the rebels got significant concessions; even then, he only got 50.5% of the votes needed, as some of them abstained instead of voting for him.

Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan was seeking to become the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; instead, the chairmanship went to Missouri Rep. Jason Smith, who was fifth in seniority terms.

The development infuriated Buchanan, who, according to a report by Puck cited by Florida Politics, directly cursed at McCarthy, accusing him of costing him the high office. 

“You f–ked me!” Buchanan told McCarthy, according to the report, as the Florida Republican said he “knew it was” the Speaker who “whipped against” him. 

Buchanan’s political adviser Max Goodman didn’t confirm the cursing, but said the Florida Republican “expressed his disappointment” to the new House Speaker. 

The Puck report, however, claimed the exchange between the two men was “so heated” that security had to intervene and step in between them. McCarthy’s office denied this happened. 

Rumors Boiling Up in Florida for Successor Race 

The sources also claimed there were fears among Republicans that a furious Buchanan may quit Congress, which could further dent the slim GOP majority in the House of Representatives. 

Before the end of the race to chair the House Ways and Means Committee, a report by Punchbowl News alleged that Buchanan was prepared to leave Congress if he didn’t get elected. 

Buchanan’s office denied the claim. Goodman described the reports his boss was going to resign as “positively ludicrous.” 

According to Florida Politics’ own report, though, rumors erupted in the state’s consulting class that the cursing episode may be used by Buchanan to justify his retirement from politics. 

They also spurred speculation about the possible candidates for Buchanan’s seat in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. 

As Vern Buchanan was the most senior Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, his failure to get the gavel came as a surprise to his allies among House Republicans. They expected McCarthy to support him because he was the only Floridian to seek a committee gavel in the new Congress. 

Reports claim, though, that the Speaker supported Smith for the job because he viewed Buchanan as being more loyal to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise.