Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) We regret the error.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) sent a letter to the Architect of the Capitol on Tuesday questioning why House Speaker candidate Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was already inhabiting the Speaker’s office amid an intraparty battle over the House’s top leadership position.
“I write to inform you that the Speaker of the House Office located in the U.S. Capitol Building is currently occupied by Rep. Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz said in the letter.
“As of this morning, the 117th Congress adjourned sine die, and a Speaker from the 118th Congress has not been elected,” he continued. “After three undeciding votes, no member can lay claim to this office.”
McCarthy failed to secure a majority for his Speakership bid in three consecutive votes on Tuesday, leading Republican leaders to adjourn for the day. A group of 19 GOP lawmakers, including Gaetz, consistently opposed McCarthy on all three rounds, with Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) joining the anti-McCarthy group in the final vote of the day.
McCarthy on Tuesday criticized Gaetz for reportedly saying he did not care if House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) was elected in place of McCarthy as a result of the group’s tactics.
“They even came to the position where one Matt Gaetz said, ‘I don’t care if we got a plurality, and we elect Hakeem Jeffries,’” McCarthy said.
Gaetz has drawn the ire of several of his fellow Republicans for his staunch opposition, including Rep. Nancy Mace (S.C.).
“@RepMattGaetz full ego was on display today,” Mace said on Twitter. “He’s going to screw around and get another [Rep. Nancy] Pelosi elected Speaker. I’ll have a lot more to say about this political D-Lister tomorrow.”