Rep. Mike Rogers is preparing to step down from a powerful House Republican panel that decides committee assignments for conference members after a series of confrontations with conservatives who prolonged Kevin McCarthy’s speakership fight.
Rogers (R-Ala.) confirmed the plan Monday morning, saying it would likely happen later this week — while underscoring that his departure from the GOP steering committee isn’t finalized and that he is not being encouraged by his colleagues to exit. Should Rogers do so as planned, his region’s members would meet to elect a new representative.
A longtime critic of certain conservative members, particularly the House Freedom Caucus, Rogers made his frustration plain on national TV late Friday night as McCarthy’s push for the top gavel faltered in the final moments of a dramatic 14th ballot. As the GOP leader fell one vote short of the speakership, Rogers approached Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on the House floor — in what some viewed as a menacing manner — pointing in the conservative duo’s direction. (McCarthy, now speaker, later prevailed on the 15th ballot.)
While Rogers advanced on Gaetz and Boebert, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) grabbed the Alabamian from behind to pull him back, sparking worries a physical fight might have soon erupted on the floor if not for Hudson’s intervention. Nonetheless, Gaetz and Rogers appeared to have patched things up by Sunday.
“[Gaetz] and I have a long and productive working relationship, that I am sure will continue. I regret that I briefly lost my temper on the House Floor Friday evening and appreciate Matt’s kind understanding,” Rogers tweeted after Gaetz also publicly shared that he forgives Rogers and doesn’t think he should face any “reprisal” for that moment.
But that public moment wasn’t Rogers’ only high-profile confrontation with McCarthy’s foes during the speaker race. Earlier last week, he angrily vowed during a private conference meeting that any members who opposed the Californian’s bid for speaker would lose their committee assignments.
While McCarthy sought to move on from that suggestion, members who took part in the painstaking negotiations that ultimately got him the gavel said the Californian didn’t make it sufficiently clear that lawmakers wouldn’t be punished for their early resistance. That, some McCarthy allies said, amounted to a tactical error that made his internal problems worse last week.
Importantly, Rogers’ own time-consuming committee role — he’s set to chair the Armed Services Committee — no doubt played a role in his plans to step aside from the steering panel, which is expected to dole out assignments sometime this week.
Meanwhile, during last week’s talks, Gaetz pushed for a gavel on a subpanel of the Armed Services Committee, according to one member involved in the negotiations.