Trump allies target Katko over infrastructure vote

Trump loyalists furious with the 13 House Republicans who joined Democrats to hand President BidenJoe BidenMacro grid will keep the lights on Pelosi suggests filibuster supporters 'dishonor' MLK's legacy on voting rights Sanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown MORE a victory on infrastructure took direct aim Tuesday at New York Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump GOP Rep. Katko, who voted to impeach Trump, won't run for reelection MORE, a leader of a moderate band of Republicans.

In a closed-door meeting in the Capitol, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) launched an effort to oust Katko as the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, sources in the room said. Bishop, a member of the Trump-aligned House Freedom Caucus, serves under Katko on the Homeland panel.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel MORE (D-Calif), who has urged rank-and-file members to stay unified and keep their focus on taking back the majority next year, referred Bishop’s motion to the influential Republican Steering Committee. That committee can either vote and recommend that the full GOP conference remove Katko or simply not act on it.

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The push comes as Katko and a dozen other Republicans who backed the $1.2 trillion Biden infrastructure package have faced threats of retribution from former President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Laura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement MORE and threats of violence from many of his supporters.

Other backers of the infrastructure bill that Biden signed into law Monday, including Reps. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonThe fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump House Republican, Democrat say political environment on Capitol Hill is 'toxic' Sunday show preview: Omicron surges, and Harris sits for extensive interview MORE (R-Mich.) and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Republican rep who voted to impeach Trump running for reelection MORE (R-Ill.), have said they’ve personally received death threats.

Leaving Tuesday’s private GOP conference meeting, McCarthy said he was vehemently “opposed to any person getting any death threat or security problem whatsoever.” 

But he demurred on whether Katko should be sanctioned and said Republicans are focused on fighting Democrats’ $1.75 trillion climate and social spending package.

Katko, who also serves as chairman of the group of moderates formerly known as the Tuesday Group, has faced criticism from his own party before, including from McCarthy. Katko was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

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And earlier this year, as McCarthy and other Trump allies tried to move on from Jan. 6, Katko bucked GOP leaders and struck a deal with his counterpart on the Homeland committee, Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), on legislation to create a 9/11-style independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection.

 

The measure passed the House but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

Bishop’s effort puts McCarthy in a tough spot. The minority leader knows he can’t alienate Trump or his supporters in his quest to become Speaker of the House, but he also needs backing from swing-district Republicans like Katko.

One of those fellow vulnerable moderates, Rep. David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoThe fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Republican rep who voted to impeach Trump running for reelection Each state's population center, visualized MORE (R-Calif.), defended Katko and those who voted their conscience on infrastructure, even though he himself voted against the plan.

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“Katko represents a very difficult district. He does everything he possibly can to win. And I think he does the best he can to represent his district as effectively as he can,” Valadao, an ally of both Katko and McCarthy, told The Hill after the meeting. 

“It’s always a situation where we have to vote what we think is right for our districts,” Valadao added. “And you look at the whole northeast, it’s just a different population. I don’t know John’s district that well, but I think he does what he thinks is best.”

Cristina Marcos contributed.