House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is facing calls to step down after he joked about having to restrain himself from hitting Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the head if his party takes control of the chamber next year.
McCarthy was given an oversized gavel adorned with the words “Fire Pelosi” by members of Tennessee’s Republican congressional delegation during a dinner Saturday in Nashville, according to a report.
The Republican leader was bullish about the prospects of the GOP regaining control of the House and him becoming speaker as a result, inviting the attendees of the dinner to come to the Capitol to witness Pelosi turning over the speaker’s gavel to him.
“It will be hard not to hit her with it, but I will bang it down,” McCarthy said, according to Washington Post reporter Michael Scherer.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said McCarthy must go over the comment.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called on McCarthy to apologize to Pelosi or step down.
“Dear @GOPLeader McCarthy: 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,” Lieu wrote on Twitter.
“You need to apologize for your statement, or resign,” he said.
McCarthy and Pelosi engaged in a war of words last week.
McCarthy called out his Democratic counterpart’s “hypocrisy” for not wearing a mask in the House after she renewed the mask mandate for the chamber amid the surge in cases because of the highly infectious Delta variant.
Earlier in the week, Pelosi called McCarthy a “moron” for arguing the mask rule was unscientific.
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.