Matt Gaetz Questions McCarthy's Status as a 'Squatter' in Speaker's Office

Florida Representative Matt Gaetz is questioning the legality of former House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy moving into the House speaker's office a day before failing to get elected to the position in three separate votes.

McCarthy, a Republican from California, on Tuesday fell short of the 218 votes required to be elected speaker on Tuesday. While his fellow Republicans hold the majority in the new congressional term, 20 GOP House members backed Jim Jordan of Ohio instead, leaving the chamber in a standstill as new congressional members are unable to be elected until a speaker is chosen.

Gaetz Question McCarthy's Move to Speaker's Office
Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, left, on Tuesday speaks to reporters after a meeting with House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, right, is shown on Tuesday in the House chamber between votes for House speaker at the Capitol. McCarthy failed to garner enough votes to be elected speaker due to dissenting Republicans like Gaetz. Kevin Dietsch/Getty; Chip Somodevilla/Getty

All 212 House Democrats supported New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries for the speaker position, with 202 Republicans backing McCarthy in the third and final round of voting.

Before votes were held, however, McCarthy and his staff followed tradition by moving into the empty speaker's office on Monday, according to a report from Politico. Gaetz posted a letter on his Twitter account Tuesday night addressed to Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton, asking on what "basis in law" is McCarthy permitted to occupy the otherwise vacated space.

"What is the basis in law, House rule, or precedent to allow someone who has placed second in three successive speaker elections to occupy the Speaker of the House Office?" read the letter. "How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter?"

Gaetz has been one of the loudest critics of McCarthy's speaker bid even prior to Tuesday's votes, alongside his fellow House members in the House Freedom Caucus, who accuse McCarthy of not being a true conservative.

In a video clip posted by The Post Millennial Tuesday afternoon, Gaetz announced his endorsement for Jordan on the House floor, saying that "maybe the right person for the job of Speaker of the House isn't someone who wants it so bad."

"Maybe the right person for the job of speaker of the house isn't someone who has sold shares of themself for more than a decade to get it," he continued in the clip.

Others users on Twitter mocked McCarthy for his move into the speaker's office. Political commentator Brian Normoyle posted that McCarthy's "televised public humiliation" after losing the speaker vote three consecutive times won't compare to being "tossed from the Speaker's office if he doesn't pull this off."

"He may have prematurely moved in as a show of confidence, but all it really demonstrated was hubris," Normoyle wrote.

New York City-based attorney David Lurie joked on his account, "Will McCarthy have to pay rent for occupying the Speaker's Office this week if he pulls out of the race?"

Conservative talk show host Mike Crispi also tweeted about McCarthy moving into the speaker's office "with no plan on how to actually become the speaker."

"You're an international PUNCHLINE Kevin," Crispi added. "We are all laughing at you."

Congressional reporter for NBC News Kyle Stewart reported that it is "tradition" for the outgoing House minority leader to move into the speaker's office. If another House member is elected speaker after the chamber reconvenes at 12 p.m. Wednesday, McCarthy and his staff will soon be on the move again.

Newsweek has reached out to McCarthy for comment.