Gaetz rejects outsider status: ‘I’m trying to reshape the House in my image’

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) made clear Sunday that he sees himself as the future of the House GOP. The firebrand congressman told The Wall Street Journal that he has no plans to leave Congress, and intends to exert his will over the caucus from within.

“I’m trying to reshape the House in my image,” he told the Journal, describing himself as a Republican who can “end the wars, shut the border, reduce the spending” and is a “fighter.”

Gaetz has made a reputation as one of the House’s most brash members, unafraid to go against party leadership. He led a group of eight Republicans to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last year, and is among the harshest critics of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Considered a rising star on the Republican Party’s right wing, Gaetz brushed off rumors that he would attempt to succeed Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) when his term ends in 2027, as has been speculated. He also said he wouldn’t take a job in a second Trump administration.

“I am singularly focused on what the House of Representatives will look like and ensuring that Donald Trump is elected president,” Gaetz said.

The government funding deadline in September sets up the next pitched battle for Gaetz, who has been unafraid to advocate for a government shutdown if it prevented omnibus spending bills.

Gaetz said he plans to again play a significant role as the appropriation process moves forward, adding he’s been unhappy with Johnson’s attempts to pass single-subject spending bills. The Speaker has been unable to reach a bargain with the Senate on spending.

“I like Mike personally, and it’s been very painful to be so disappointed,” Gaetz said, not going into specifics on his plans.

An influential figure in the populist right wing, the forth-term congressman began wading into primary races this year backing Freedom Caucus-aligned candidates, often against candidates backed by McCarthy.

McCarthy is now backing Gaetz’s own primary opponent, Aaron Dimmock. The pair’s conflict has even gotten personal, with McCarthy saying in April that Gaetz’s move to oust him was in order to avoid an Ethics Committee investigation for sexual misconduct.

The Ethics Committee announced last week that it is now probing whether Gaetz moved to obstruct the investigations into his conduct. The inquiries stem from claims the congressman engaged in sexual misconduct, engaged in illicit drug use and accepted improper gifts.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.