Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) gave new insight into the tense moments on the House floor over the Speaker of the House election.
In an interview with Spectrum News, McHenry provided new details about the fight on the House floor between allies of now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the 20 Republican holdouts who opposed his speakership bid. He also talked about the fight that nearly broke out between two members, and said it was a pivotal moment in the prolonged conflict.
“Had [North Carolina Republican Rep.] Richard Hudson not been there it would be a whole different night. It would be a whole different week and Kevin McCarthy would not be Speaker of the House,” McHenry told Spectrum reporter Reuben Jones. “Had Richard Hudson not walked over when he did, and instinctively do the right thing to remove somebody from a bad situation, that was on the cusp of getting much much worse.”
New:@PatrickMcHenry says if Richard Hudson didn’t restrain Mike Rogers from Matt Gaetz on the House floor during the Speaker vote Kevin McCarthy would not be Speaker today.
— Reuben Jones (@ReubenJones1) January 24, 2023
At around 11 p.m. on January 6, after the 14th ballot of the speakership vote had concluded and McCarthy had once again failed to get a majority of votes, he approached Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and began talking to them. During the exchange, McHenry walked up behind McCarthy and tried to talk to Gaetz. While McHenry was talking to McCarthy, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) walked up and immediately began berating Gaetz. Hudson quickly stepped up and restrained Rogers, grabbing him by the face and pulling him away while McCarthy walked back to his seat.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 7, 2023
McHenry said that the C-SPAN video didn’t fully capture the atmosphere in the chamber. “It was much more tense on the [House] floor than what what the video gives credit to,” he said.
Before the exchange between Rogers and Gaetz, McHenry had been negotiating with Gaetz to try to change his vote. “The goal was to get him to vote for Kevin and I quickly realized that I needed to move to a more modest goal which was for him to move to [vote] present as a sign of goodwill,” he said. He told the outlet he had no idea that C-SPAN cameras were on him in the moment, but that wouldn’t have changed anything. “Had you told me at the moment, it wouldn’t have affected a single thing I did.”
McHenry is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, and currently serves as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He served as Republican Chief Deputy Whip from 2014 to 2019, and briefly became House Majority Whip in 2017 after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was shot at the Congressional Baseball Game. He was considered as a compromise candidate for speaker if McCarthy could not get the votes, Spectrum News reported. But despite his reputation for building relationships with all members of his caucus, McHenry flatly said “no” when asked if he would like to be speaker one day.
Gaetz and Rogers have since made up their quarrel. “@RepMikeRogersAL and I have a six-year productive, working relationship,” Gaetz tweeted on January 8. “We’re going to work together wonderfully going forward. I don’t think there should be any punishment or reprisal just because he had an animated moment. He has my forgiveness.”
“@RepMattGaetz and I have a long and productive working relationship, that I am sure will continue,” Rogers quote-tweeted in reply to Gaetz. “I regret that I briefly lost my temper on the House Floor Friday evening and appreciate Matt’s kind understanding.”
Rogers stepped down from his position on the Republican Steering Committee after the exchange.