GOP lawmaker blames ‘Gaetz and 7 useful idiots’ for House turmoil

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) blamed Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and “seven useful idiots” for turmoil in the House, saying Thursday their success in ousting former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last fall is a direct cause of today’s problems for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Lawler criticized members of his own party for weakening Johnson’s negotiation powers in the battle over aid to Ukraine and Israel, which is moving through the House this week over the objections of some conservatives.

“Some of these folks have nobody to blame but themselves for why Speaker Johnson’s hand in negotiations has been weakened,” Lawler told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during his Thursday night appearance on “AC360.” “It’s their actions that have done that.”

“I look at this very simply,” he said. “In October, the House was thrown into chaos by Matt Gaetz and seven useful idiots that teamed up with him within the Republican Conference and 208 Democrats.”

“And at this moment — when you see what happened in the aftermath of vacating the chair and Israel attacked in a terrorist attack a week later, to do that again would be detrimental to the country and global security.”

The House is gearing up for a Saturday vote on a complicated plan to advance a foreign aid package including dollars for Ukraine and Israel.

Republicans who oppose the plan have voiced frustration, and two GOP lawmakers, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.), have said they’d back a motion to oust Johnson. The two have not been willing to trigger that motion so far.

McCarthy was booted from his Speakership last fall when Gaetz and seven other House GOP members voted with Democrats to remove the California Republican from his post, a move that paralyzed the lower chamber for three weeks.

Lawler projected confidence that foreign aid legislation will pass the House despite the threats against Johnson.

“The foreign aid bill will pass,” Lawler told Cooper.

“It must pass,” he continued. “The United States has an obligation as leader of the free world to support our allies at this most critical juncture and to make it clear to our adversaries that we will not tolerate their actions and what they have done to undermine and destabilize the free world.”

The House Rules Committee late Thursday advanced a package of foreign aid bills, but only with the help of Democrats, a rare sight. Three GOP members of the panel, Massie and Reps. Chip Roy (Texas) and Ralph Norman (S.C.) opposed the effort.

Rules votes typically are party-line votes and it is rare for members of a party to oppose a rule advanced by their own leadership.

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