Speed Reads

Too soon?

Matt Gaetz asks Capitol architect why McCarthy isn't 'a squatter' for occupying House speaker's office

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was one of 19 House Republicans who thwarted House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) bid to become House speaker in three consecutive votes on Tuesday, turning "what was supposed to be a day of jubilation for Republicans" into "a chaotic display of disunity within the party," The New York Times reports. Even if McCarthy manages to eke out a victory now — "an outcome that appeared remote, given the stalemate at hand — he would be a diminished speaker beholden to an empowered right flank."

Gaetz added insult to injury Tuesday night by writing — and releasing — a letter to the Architect of the Capitol, demanding to know why McCarthy was allowed to move into the House speaker's suite over the weekend. "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?" Gaetz asked. "How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter?"

On Tuesday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert — gleefully breaking a purported New Year's resolution "to not gloat when bad things happen Kevin McCarthy" — agreed that McCarthy was tempting fate by moving into the speaker's office.

"What makes Kevin's anguish particularly delicious is that it's no secret that he's dreamed of being speaker of the House for years," Colbert said. "Reportedly, interns in his office are already expected to call him 'Mr. Speaker,' and this weekend, staffers were seen moving his boxes into the speaker's office. I wouldn't be in a hurry to unpack. He may not be great at counting votes, but he's good at counting chickens before they hatch."