WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has quietly appointed Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who led the unsuccessful push to derail McCarthy's bid for speaker, to the select committee investigating the so-called weaponization of the federal government.
There was no announcement of Gaetz's appointment by either McCarthy, R-Calif., or Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who chairs both the Judiciary Committee and the weaponization subcommittee.
Instead, McCarthy's appointments to the special committee, including Gaetz, were read into the Congressional Record a week ago and only noticed by reporters on Tuesday.
Gaetz, who had been under FBI investigation of allegations of underage sex trafficking, was not part of the original slate of names McCarthy rolled out for the panel two weeks ago.
According to the select panel's roster on its website, Gaetz replaced Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, one of the GOP holdouts who helped broker a deal with McCarthy in last month's fight over the speaker's gavel.
A member of the weaponization panel said Roy asked for the change because he will serve on three demanding committees — Judiciary, Budget and Rules — and has a young family at home. Panel members were told the special committee will sometimes meet late on fly-out day and require more time in Washington.
"I admire Chip for recognizing his limits," the lawmaker said.
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Later Tuesday night, after the State of the Union address, Roy confirmed that he spoke with McCarthy about stepping down from the weaponization subcommittee due to his busy schedule.
"We had a conversation. I thought it made sense for me to balance my life and to do what I need to do," Roy said in an interview. "I would like to be on it but I've got just way too much going on.
"I decided it would be better for everybody and for the cause to free that up," he said.
The subcommittee appointment is a big prize for Gaetz, one of McCarthy’s most vocal opponents during the historic speaker battle.
For weeks, Gaetz had vowed to block McCarthy from winning the gavel on the House floor, saying McCarthy was "squatting" in the speaker's office before he had secured the top job.
Gaetz opposed McCarthy for 13 ballots, voting at times for Jordan, Donald Trump and Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Byron Donalds, R-Fla. But on the 14th and 15th ballots, after it was clear McCarthy had the momentum, Gaetz switched his vote to "present," clearing the way for McCarthy to win.
In an email, a Gaetz spokesperson said the congressman "is honored to serve on the Weaponization Subcommittee and will be working very hard.”
The weaponization panel will hold its inaugural hearing Thursday. Among the witnesses will be Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., as well as former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who left the Democratic Party to become an independent and frequently appears on Fox News.