Steve Bannon Says Matt Gaetz Will Be ‘De Facto’ Speaker in House


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Former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon noted on his Real America’s Voice podcast on Friday that Freedom Caucus member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) will serve as the “de facto” Speaker of the House despite the fact that Republicans are likely going to elect current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to serve in that role officially.

His prediction came after McCarthy offered some key concessions to other members of the caucus who had been critical of his speakership, CNN reported, as cited by Newsweek. The cable outlet quoted unnamed Republican sources who said they were familiar with talks between McCarthy and conservative Republicans.

Newsweek noted further:

In a phone interview on Saturday, Bannon told Newsweek that there is “no chance” that Gaetz would be elected House speaker. However, he added the Florida Republican and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, together will be the “de facto” speakers or “the speaker in fact [but] not in actuality” of the House.

McCarthy, a California Republican, has conceded to reducing the threshold needed to push for a floor vote, known as the motion to vacate, by members to remove a sitting speaker. The House GOP leader hopes that this move will help him gain support from his critics.


Members of the House Freedom Caucus have long been pushing for that concession, which would weaken McCarthy’s standing if he does become speaker, according to Politico.

During talks with conservative members, CNN noted, McCarthy appeared to be open to a five-member threshold. Now, the House Republican majority will likely call for a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair, with some conservatives asking for a single House member to be able to force a vote.

Moderate Republicans may view the five-person threshold as being too low, though, and may even lean toward raising it to 50 members. However, Freedom Caucus members, including Gaetz and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) think the five-person limit is too high, Newsweek noted.

While Gaetz has thus far withheld his support for McCarthy, Greene, an ally of his, has said she will vote to support him as speaker after winning some concessions. Analysts believe her pledge of support will likely help her have more influence over the chamber’s priorities and direction under GOP leadership.

During his interview with Newsweek, Bannon detailed some of the reasons why McCarthy is taking heat from some GOP members.

“The issue with Kevin, it’s not that people don’t like him, Kevin is very well-liked. It has nothing to do with that,” Bannon said. “It has to do with really, what does the Republican Party stand for. What does MAGA stand for and how we’re going to sort this situation out?”

He went on to say that one of the biggest criticisms of McCarthy is that it’s not clear what he stands for.


“Over the last 48, 72 hours, people are saying, ‘Well, hold it. This guy is prepared to give away things he’d never said [he would],'” Bannon said, adding that McCarthy “under no circumstances” will “ever take the speakership” while having “to do it by giving up motion to vacate, because he would never really have the freedom to do what he wants to do.”

He also suggested that the battle over the speakership is a “proxy war” between the “corporatist” side of the GOP and the “populace face of MAGA,” or the ‘Make America Great Again’ side, popularized by Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign.

“That’s what this fight is about,” he said. “And it’s exemplified by obviously the hard-right versus…the corporate wing of the party.”


That said, a group of McCarthy’s colleagues has vowed to only vote for him.

The Main Street Caucus chair, South Dakota Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson and vice chair Rep. Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma sent correspondence saying that the dozens of members of the caucus would only vote for Rep. McCarthy.

“Yesterday Republican Main Street Caucus (RMSC) members met to discuss priorities for the upcoming votes on the House rules package and the election of a Speaker of the House. During that meeting, a strong consensus developed” in several areas, they said.


“As a group of more than 70 members committed to finding practical conservative solutions, we believe these priorities will ensure the Republican conference hits the ground running on day one of the new Congress.

“Americans elected a Republican Majority to provide a check and balance on the administration and to find solutions to the problems our nation is facing, we can’t do that if we don’t elect a Speaker on January 3,” it said.


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