WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was blasted by Democrats for saying “it will be hard to not hit” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a gavel if he becomes speaker of the House.
McCarthy, R-Calif., made the comments at a Tennessee Republican Party fundraiser on Saturday night, where he was handed an oversized gavel by members of the state's Republican members of Congress.
“I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. … It’ll be hard not to hit her with it," he said, according to audio posted on Twitter by Main Street Nashville.
A spokesman for McCarthy told NBC News that the minority leader was “obviously joking.”
McCarthy and Pelosi, D-Calif., have been feuding over appointments to the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the reinstatement of a mask mandate in the House following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
McCarthy and other Republican members have spoken out against the rules, and many are refusing to wear masks. Pelosi called McCarthy a “moron” last week over his comments that the new requirement wasn't supported by science.
McCarthy responded by telling reporters, “Well, if she’s so brilliant, can she tell me where the science in the building changes between the House and the Senate?" — referring to the lack of a mandate in the latter chamber.
In response to the minority leader's gavel remarks, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, tweeted, “A threat of violence to someone who was a target of a #January6th assassination attempt from your fellow Trump supporters is irresponsible and disgusting.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., meanwhile, demanded an apology, saying, "Violence against women is no laughing matter."
And Rep. Eric Swallwell, D-Calif., went further, saying McCarthy should even resign.
America has suffered enough violence around politics. @GOPLeader McCarthy is now a would-be assailant of @SpeakerPelosi. He needs to resign. https://t.co/6wvdwlG75Y
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) August 1, 2021
Following the CDC's announcement of the new mask guidance last week, the attending physician for Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan, said in an alert to House members that people are required to wear masks again inside the chamber, office buildings and at committee meetings. He sent a similar letter to Senate leadership recommending senators and staff wear a mask indoors on Capitol Hill.
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