When the White House is trolling Congress using Onion headlines and Republicans are voting against funding the military, you know something very strange is happening in Washington.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration trolled both Florida congressman Matt Gaetz as “The Worst Person You Know” and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over his leadership using a headline from the satirical newspaper – after Mr Gaetz accused the GOP leadership of causing Congress to careen towards a looming 30 September shutdown deadline without a plan to fund the government.
The White House account on X, formerly Twitter, shared an oft-quoted Onion story featuring a picture of a sullen man with the headline: “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point.”
The post came in response to a quote from Mr Gaetz, the far-right congressman who has consistently been a critic of Speaker McCarthy.
In an interview with Fox News reporter Liz Elkind, the Florida Republican had called the looming shutdown “Speaker McCarthy’s fault”.
“We will have a government shutdown and it is absolutely Speaker McCarthy’s fault,” Mr Gaetz said.
“We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can’t even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”
On Thursday, members of Congress left for the weekend as the Republican-controlled House again failed to bring forward a vote on a military spending bill – part of the larger dysfunction in the House that has left the GOP without a slate of policies likely to pass the Senate and avert a government shutdown at the end of the month.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 20, 2023
Six Republicans voted against the so-called “rule” vote: Marjorie Taylor Greene; Dan Bishop; Matt Rosendale; Andy Biggs; Eli Crane; and Tom Cole.
The party controlling the House rarely loses such votes.
MATT GAETZ pins shutdown on McCarthy: “We will have a government shutdown and it is absolutely Speaker McCarthy's fault. We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can't even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate”
— Liz Elkind (@liz_elkind) September 20, 2023
Yet, Mr McCarthy has lost three in the last four months, including two this week, a feat that hadn’t occured in the prior two decades before the California Republican took the position, according to The New York Times.
Mr Gaetz’s attacks on the Speaker have ratched up throughout the negotiations.
The Florida Republican has repeatedly called for the speaker’s removal, and – in a bizarre turn of events – left a motion to remove him from the speaker’s chair in a Capitol Hill bathroom on Tuesday, Politico reports.