In a startling turn of events within the halls of Congress, Florida U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01) has filed a formal ethics complaint against former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20). This bold move comes in the wake of an alleged physical altercation involving McCarthy and Tennessee U.S. Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02).
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) November 14, 2023
During an interview with NPR’s Claudia Grisales, Burchett accused McCarthy of elbowing him in the back as they crossed paths in a congressional hallway. The Tennessee congressman described the encounter as unexpected and forceful, likening it to a “clean shot to the kidneys.”
The incident escalated quickly, with Burchett attempting to confront McCarthy, only to be obstructed by the former speaker’s security team. Burchett expressed his frustration to CNN’s Manu Raju, labeling McCarthy as a “bully” and criticizing his reliance on an extensive security detail.
News — Rep. Tim Burchett accuses Kevin McCarthy of a "sucker punch" to the kidneys and describes heated scene as he chased the former speaker down the hallway.
Said he's the type of the guy who as a kid would "hide behind his mama's skirt."
McCarthy denies it was intentional pic.twitter.com/fBvOUxMb5z
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 14, 2023
Burchett, illustrating the cultural differences in handling conflicts, remarked that in East Tennessee, issues are addressed face-to-face, not through underhanded tactics. Despite his strong feelings, Burchett decided against pursuing an ethics complaint against McCarthy.
However, his colleague from Florida, Matt Gaetz, took the initiative to file a complaint. In his submission, Gaetz decried the incident as part of a growing trend of decorum breaches in Congress, likening the current atmosphere to the tumultuous pre-Civil War era. Gaetz emphasized the gravity of the situation, highlighting the rarity of such a direct physical confrontation between members of Congress.
This complaint by Gaetz, who was among the eight Republican congressmen voting against McCarthy’s speakership last month, adds another layer of intrigue to the ongoing political drama within the U.S. House of Representatives.