McCarthy jokes it'll be hard not to 'hit' Pelosi with gavel if he is Speaker

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyDemocrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol 'Justice for J6' rally puts GOP in awkward spot MORE (R-Calif.) joked over the weekend that it would be hard for him not to hit Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Raise the debt limit while starting to fix the budget   'Justice for J6' organizer calls on demonstrators to respect law enforcement MORE (D-Calf.) with a gavel if the GOP wins control of the lower chamber in next year's midterm elections. 

At a dinner on Saturday evening, members of Tennessee's Republican congressional delegation gave McCarthy an oversized gavel with the words "Fire Pelosi" on it. 

"It will be hard not to hit her with it but I will bang it down," McCarthy reportedly joked, according to Washington Post reporter Michael Scherer. 

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Several Republican leaders from Tennessee, including Gov. Bill Lee and Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnWarren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens US gymnasts offer scathing assessment of FBI MORE, were reportedly in attendance at the $250-a-plate dinner event. 

A war of words between the two party leaders escalated last week when McCarthy joined other Republicans in vehemently protesting a mask mandate the Capitol physician reimposed and Pelosi supported.

"Make no mistake — 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," McCarthy tweeted on Tuesday night.

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"He's such a moron," Pelosi responded when asked about McCarthy.

McCarthy and others in Republican leadership also expressed outrage when Pelosi weeks earlier rejected two GOP representatives from the House commission investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Democrats hold a slim majority in the House, and Republicans are looking to flip enough seats to give the GOP control of the lower chamber and make McCarthy Speaker. 

McCarthy's joke was swiftly condemned by a number of House Democrats. 

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