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McHenry says McCarthy would not be speaker if Rogers wasn't pulled back

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) would not have been selected to his position if an Alabama representative was not pulled back from lunging at one of McCarthy’s main GOP opponents. 

McHenry said in an interview with Spectrum News that Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) holding back Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) during the speaker vote earlier this month was critical to McCarthy being able to gain enough support to win the speakership. 

“Had Richard Hudson not been there it would be a whole different night. It would be a whole different week and Kevin McCarthy would not be Speaker of the House,” McHenry said. “Had Richard Hudson not walked over when he did, and instinctively do the right thing to remove somebody from a bad situation, that was on the cusp of getting much much worse.” 

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Gaetz was one of 20 Republicans who repeatedly refused to vote for McCarthy to become speaker during the vote earlier this month. McCarthy was eventually able to get enough votes on the 15th ballot after the Republican opponents either changed their votes to back him or voted present. 

After McCarthy failed to receive enough votes on the 14th ballot, McCarthy and a couple of his Republican allies engaged in a tense conversation with Gaetz. Soon after McCarthy walked away, Rogers confronted Gaetz, but Hudson pulled him away from the Florida lawmaker. 

McHenry said in the interview that the moment was more intense than how it appeared on video that was captured by C-SPAN. 

Rogers later said he regretted losing his temper at Gaetz, who said he forgave him for the moment and looks forward to continuing to work together. 

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who is the top-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said after the incident that he did not see any evidence that Rogers was going to strike Gaetz.