Republican House of Representatives Leader Kevin McCarthy joked about hitting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a gavel at a recent event in Tennessee, prompting condemnation from Democrats and calls for him to resign.
Mr McCarthy, who represents California and is the number two Republican in Congress, made the remark on Saturday at the 44th Annual Statesmen’s Dinner, an event with the Tennessee Republican party where he was the keynote speaker.
“I’ll make this one promise to you. When we win the majority … you’re all invited,” he told the crowd, who cheered excitedly. “I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It’ll be hard not to hit her with it.”
The marks are a likely response to earlier this week, when Ms Pelosi called Mr McCarthy a “moron” for falsely claiming the CDC’s renewed calls for mask mandates weren’t based in science.
"You ever been called a moron by the Speaker?" Mr McCarthy said during his speech. "I want to call her former Speaker."
On Wednesday, the Speaker called Mr McCarthy a moron after he claimed that, “The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.”
The GOP delegation also gave the leader a prop gavel with the words “Fire Pelosi” on it during the event, which raised $625,000 for the Republican Party.
The remarks inspired swift condemnation from Democratic members of the House of Representatives.
"America has suffered enough violence around politics," Eric Swalwell of California tweeted. "@GOPLeader McCarthy is now a would-be assailant of @SpeakerPelosi. He needs to resign."
"Dear @GOPLeader McCarthy," added Rep. Ted Lieu. "Don’t you think America has had enough political violence? You should never be encouraging or threatening or joking about causing violence to anyone, including the Speaker of the House. You need to apologize for your statement, or resign."
The Independent has reached out to Mr McCarthy’s office for comment.
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