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How South Florida lawmakers reacted to historic House Speaker ouster, chaotic aftermath

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leaves the House floor after being ousted as Speaker of the House at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite
/
AP
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leaves the House floor after being ousted as Speaker of the House at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.

This week’s ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy by a faction of hard-liners from his own Republican party marked the first time in U.S. history that a top House leader had been voted out of the position. 

The final vote was 216−210, with just eight Republicans joining every House Democrat to remove McCarthy. Republicans control the House with a slim majority. 

South Florida’s four Republicans in Congress, who each voted against removing McCarthy from his top post, reacted with anger at a handful of conservatives led by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who orchestrated the vote to oust McCarthy, and praised the now former speaker. 

The region’s five Democratic members, who all voted to oust McCarthy, said Republicans were responsible for the chaos in Congress and distrusted McCarthy as a leader.

In a roundup of press releases, social media post, interviews with national cable TV networks and other public statements, here’s how several South Florida lawmakers reacted to the historic news of McCarthy’s forced departure.

REPUBLICANS

U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R−Miami, told Fox Business News he blames Gaetz for creating chaos in the House.

“I've got serious issues with Matt Gaetz and what he just did — not only to the Republican Party but to this nation,” he said. “It's the Republican Party under Kevin McCarthy that's restoring normal order in the House of Representatives and now it's been torpedoed by none other than Matt Gaetz.” 

U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R−Miami, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that her party has a “few members that are just not in line with what the Republican Party represents, moderates and conservatives.”

“I was a little bit distraught with what happened, but I have to respect what the other members of Congress who decided to vote against Mr. McCarthy have to do, because that is the way democracy works," she added.

“But now we don't have a speaker. But we still have the same problems that we had yesterday and the day before, spending and the border.” 

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz−Balart, R−Miami, used “X,” formerly Twitter, to say that “a small group of members in coordination with the radical left socialist squad are attempting to derail the conservative GOP agenda.”

He did not mention that the “small group” were Republicans to his 75,000 followers on “X”.

“Over the last 9 months, Speaker McCarthy has demonstrated his ability to unite the GOP, kept his promise to pass the strongest border security bill, and pushed back against the Biden Administration’s wasteful spending, regulatory overreach and woke agenda,” he added. 

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R−Fort Pierce, who supported McCarthy, wrote what he viewed as McCarthy’s accomplishments as speaker in a post to his 80,000 “X” followers.

Mast argued in his post that McCarthy had:

  • Passed the strongest border security bill in a generation
  • Eliminated the military vax mandate
  • Secured largest deficit reduction in history
  • Passed the bill to repeal 87K IRS agents

DEMOCRATS  

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D−Miami Gardens, told her 73,000 followers on “X” that Republicans are solely responsible for “self−made chaos.”

“This is a self-inflicted wound and a clear sign Republicans are incapable of governing,” she said in one post.

On Tuesday, following the vote, she posted this statement: “Today is a sad and solemn day for democracy. GOP extremists are holding our nation’s government hostage, bringing chaos and dysfunction to the halls of Congress. It's time for Republicans to clean up their mess and restore integrity to the People’s House.” 

U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D−Parkland, said McCarthy’s ouster puts Congress in “great peril.”

"I do not believe this is a time for celebration. Our institutions are in great peril. But that is not the fault of Democrats," he wrote. 

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D−West Palm Beach, blamed McCarthy for his own demise, saying he could not be trusted as a House leader.

“Since the first day of this Congress, Speaker McCarthy has catered to the will of MAGA extremists to win their votes, pushing deeply partisan bills that would criminalize abortion, take child care away from families, destroy public education, and attack crucial benefits for seniors,” she said in a statement.

“He betrayed the debt limit deal he agreed to with President Biden almost immediately. He undermined a bipartisan investigation into the January 6th attack on our democracy, and now is wasting Congress’ and the American people’s time with a baseless, partisan impeachment inquiry to appease the former president.”

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