McCarthy seeks shift from party's civil war

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy says Gaetz won't be punished unless charges filed Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating McCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election MORE (R-Calif.) is desperately looking to change the subject from his own party’s civil war to a common opponent: President Biden.

McCarthy and other GOP lawmakers will travel to Houston on Tuesday to rail against what they call Biden’s “job-killing” energy policies. The GOP leader previously spent several days accusing Biden of dragging his feet in reopening schools and knocking his administration’s plan to give COVID-19 vaccinations to Guantánamo Bay prisoners.

The efforts are a reprieve for McCarthy, who is otherwise the touchstone of an internecine battle ripping apart his party as it charts a path forward after former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE’s defeat and departure from Washington.


Yet the attacks on Biden have done little to take the pressure off McCarthy, who faces a series of challenges ranging from committee assignments for controversial first-term Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to the leadership role of Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump backs Wyoming GOP chair, citing Cheney censure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Trump mocks Murkowski, Cheney election chances MORE (R-Wyo.) after she voted to impeach Trump.

Democrats are threatening to hold a floor vote later this week to boot Greene from the Education and Budget committees unless McCarthy removes her first.

Greene voiced support for executing Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Republican proposes constitutional amendment to prevent Supreme Court expansion Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations MORE (D-Calif.) and has endorsed wild conspiracy theories that the 9/11 attacks and Sandy Hook and Parkland, Fla., school shootings were hoaxes. On Monday, she appeared to walk back some of her assertions, calling the school shootings “not fake” during an interview with OAN.

The problem for McCarthy is that Greene has the backing of Trump, who remains the dominant force in the party and whom Republicans will need to help excite the base to win back the House and Senate in next year’s midterm elections.

McCarthy will sit down with Greene as early as Tuesday, though he’s given no indication about what he’s decided.

On Wednesday, McCarthy will lead a gathering of rank-and-file Republicans — a private “family meeting” — as conservatives plot to oust Cheney from the No. 3 leadership post.


House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) are circulating a petition calling for Cheney to step down as conference chairwoman, arguing she hasn’t represented the views of most GOP lawmakers.

Two-thirds of Republicans would need to agree to hold a vote to remove Cheney; otherwise, the issue would be sent to an ad hoc committee likely to be made up of leadership allies who likely would rule in favor of Cheney. McCarthy has said he has concerns with Cheney’s impeachment vote but doesn’t support her ouster. 

Multiple lawmakers said they expect Wednesday’s meeting to be “tense,” pointing to a similar one last summer during which conservatives and Cheney quarreled over her decision to support the primary opponent of conservative Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold Massie14 Republicans vote against resolution condemning Myanmar military coup House approves bills tightening background checks on guns Can members of Congress carry firearms on the Capitol complex? MORE (R-Ky.), which she later retracted after controversial comments from the candidate emerged. 

“I think you’ll have, you know, three constituencies in our conference — those who want to drive out the populists, those who want to drive out the establishment and those who simply want peace,” Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzOfficer wounded in raid that killed Breonna Taylor gets book deal McCarthy says Gaetz won't be punished unless charges filed Matt Gaetz makes six-figure ad buy targeting CNN amid sex trafficking allegations MORE (R-Fla.), one of the ringleaders trying to oust Cheney, told The Hill on Monday. 

It’s nearly two years before voters go to the polls for the midterms, but the divisions are a worry for the party.

McCarthy has sought to get members to stop attacking one another, but his calls for unity have been unsuccessful amid the tensions over the deadly riot at the Capitol and Trump’s impeachment.

Gaetz flew to Cheney’s home state last week and rallied hundreds in support of her removal.

Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Matt Gaetz makes six-figure ad buy targeting CNN amid sex trafficking allegations Gaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN MORE (R-Ill.), who along with Cheney and eight other Republicans voted to impeach Trump, said he will launch a political action committee taking aim at Republicans who align with Trump and embrace “poisonous conspiracies and lies.”

There’s still plenty of time for the warring factions to unite, and McCarthy is eager to turn the page on the slew of bad headlines.

Democrats hold just a 221-211 majority, putting the Speakership in McCarthy’s grasp.

The tensions roiling the GOP point to an existential crisis within the post-Trump party, and McCarthy has come under intense criticism for his handling of the various controversies.

Even as Greene promulgated a conspiracy theory that the deadly 2018 California wildfires were started by lasers from space controlled by a powerful Jewish family, McCarthy, a California native, laid low, refusing to condemn her and instead playing up his party’s policy disagreements with Biden.


On the issue of giving COVID-19 vaccinations to Guantánamo Bay prisoners, McCarthy scored a victory when administration officials, recognizing the poor optics, paused the program just two hours after the GOP leader criticized it in a tweet.

Building on that success, McCarthy will take another jab at Biden on Tuesday, when he and nine other House Republicans will travel to Enterprise Products in Houston to speak to local media about how Biden’s suite of executive orders — including rejoining the Paris climate agreement and halting new mining, oil and gas leases on federal lands — will kill American jobs and damage energy-producing hubs. 

McCarthy will be joined by Texas GOP Reps. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyBuchanan to seek top GOP position on Ways and Means Committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring On The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire MORE, Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawGOP Rep. Crenshaw to take leave due to eye surgery Koch network urges lawmakers to back 'personal option' health plan A nuclear frontier MORE, Brian Babin, Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Biden makes his Afghanistan decision Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Biden to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 MORE, Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberMcCarthy seeks shift from party's civil war READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results House rebuffs GOP lawmaker's effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol MORE, Michael Cloud and Troy Nehls and first-term Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) and Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.), who both ousted Democratic incumbents last fall.   

“As conservatives, it is up to us to hold this administration accountable to do the right thing for all Americans,” McCarthy said in a recent letter to Republicans. “We must measure every appropriate proposal from the Biden administration with one simple question: will it help? Will it help restore our way of life, rebuild our economy, or renew the American dream?”

The way McCarthy sees it, if Republicans can make peace with each other, zero in on Biden and make the 2022 midterms a referendum on his “socialist” policies, they can flip enough seats to take back the majority.

Democrats, however, argued there’s little McCarthy can do to separate himself from extremists in his party after he refused to condemn Greene and backed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

“The House Republican Conference has been infected by the QAnon caucus, the conspiracy caucus and the cover-up caucus at the same time, and Kevin McCarthy continues to bury his head in the sand and sees fit to go play footsie with Donald Trump down in Mar-a-Lago,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesRace debate grips Congress Cheney: Afghanistan withdrawal a 'huge propaganda victory' for terrorists Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP MORE (N.Y.) said on MSNBC, pointing to the GOP leader’s meeting with Trump in Florida last week. 

“That’s disgraceful. He is embarrassing, and he’s a pathetic excuse of a leader.”