House Republicans can’t seem to stop fighting with each other, despite potentially being less than a year out from winning the majority in the 2022 midterm elections.
Just two weeks ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Press: Newt says lock 'em up – for doing their job! The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, NATO eye 'all scenarios' with Russia MORE (R-Calif.) urged Republicans to stop attacking each other after 13 moderate GOP lawmakers were marked as traitors by some of their conservative colleagues over their votes for the bipartisan infrastructure bill championed by President BidenJoe BidenNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Clyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes Overnight Defense & National Security — US delivers written response to Russia MORE.
McCarthy, the odds-on favorite to be the next Speaker if the GOP does win back the House next year, said his conference should focus instead on their opposition to Democrats’ social spending and climate package.
Weeks later, conservative and ultraconservative lawmakers are again making headlines with schoolyard insults on Twitter.
The GOP drama on Tuesday was the nasty Twitter fight between Reps. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE (R-Ga.) and Nancy MaceNancy MaceOn The Money — No SALT, and maybe no deal Hillicon Valley — Presented by Cisco — YouTube permanently bans Dan Bongino Amazon endorses legislation to end federal prohibition on marijuana MORE (R-S.C.), with Greene calling the swing-district lawmaker “trash” for condemning Rep. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House Boebert asked Jewish visitors to Capitol if they were doing 'reconnaissance': report GOP Reps. Greene, Clyde accrue nearly 0K in combined mask fines MORE (R-Colo.). Mace fired back by using emojis to label Greene as “batshit crazy.”
The battle between the two centered on Boebert, who herself was called “TRASH” days earlier by Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Romney participating in fundraiser for Liz Cheney Cheney hits Gingrich for saying Jan. 6 panel members may be jailed MORE, the anti-Trump Republican from Illinois who has increasingly taken on the most far-right of his party. He was criticizing Boebert for invoking Islamophobic tropes by suggesting Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOver 80 lawmakers urge Biden to release memo outlining his authority on student debt cancellation Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Overnight Defense & National Security — DOD watchdog to review extremism screening MORE (D-Minn.) could be a terrorist.
If McCarthy does become Speaker, the infighting offers a preview of just how challenging his job could be — and of the difficulty a divided House GOP might have in governing. The more narrow the margin, the tougher McCarthy’s job likely would be.
McCarthy tends to prefer trying to smooth over problems within his conference behind the scenes; he doesn’t like publicly condemning fellow GOP lawmakers, which also risks alienating them as well as their allies.
The next Speaker will be chosen in part by an internal conference vote by whichever party wins the majority.
Amid the Twitter back-and-forth with Greene, Mace said that she spoke with McCarthy on Tuesday and discussed “solving problems not only in the conference, but for our country.”
McCarthy has been having a number of one-on-one calls.
He also phoned Boebert last week after a video showed her recalling her reaction upon seeing Omar while boarding a Capitol elevator: “Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.” Boebert added: “Oh, look, the ‘jihad squad’ decided to show up for work today.”
Earlier this month, McCarthy spoke with Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarJan. 6 committee subpoenas leaders of 'America First' movement Lawmakers coming under increased threats — sometimes from one another McCarthy says he'll strip Dems of committee slots if GOP wins House MORE (R-Ariz.) about an edited anime video sent out by his Twitter account that showed Gosar killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezNew Mexico Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case Hispanics sour on Biden and Democrats' agenda as midterms loom MORE (D-N.Y.).
And in an attempt to further settle the Boebert controversy, McCarthy called House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBiden talks climate and child care provisions of Build Back Better agenda with top CEOs The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Russia attack 'would change the world' Senate Democrats urge Biden to get beefed-up child tax credit into spending deal MORE (D-Md.) for help in coordinating a direct conversation between Boebert and Omar, although the second-ranking Democrat said Tuesday that he warned McCarthy that he didn’t think it would be “productive.”
McCarthy’s behind-the-scenes strategy has had its limits, as GOP lawmakers he’s counseled have repeatedly either doubled down on the infighting or remained unrepentant.
Gosar eventually removed the violent anime video from Twitter, but later described it as having “self-censored.” Ultimately, it wasn’t enough to stop House Democrats — along with Kinzinger and Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyRomney participating in fundraiser for Liz Cheney The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden faces Ukraine decision amid Russia aggression Cheney hits Gingrich for saying Jan. 6 panel members may be jailed MORE (Wyo.), another Republican who’s repeatedly broken with the GOP over its continued embrace of former President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Kemp leading Perdue in Georgia gubernatorial primary: poll US ranked 27th least corrupt country in the world MORE — from voting to censure Gosar and take away his committee assignments.
And hours after tweeting that she had a “good call” with McCarthy, Mace launched additional Twitter attacks on Greene by calling her “nuts” — with another emoji — and adding that she was “beyond disgusted.”
“Marjorie Taylor Greene is a liar. And I’m not going to tolerate lies, racism or bigotry, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” Mace added during a Tuesday interview on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Business show. “She’s crazy. She’s insane. She’s bad for the party. And I’m not going to put up with it.”
Boebert initially issued an apology “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar.” But when Boebert and Omar did connect over the phone on Monday, both lawmakers confirmed that it quickly went downhill.
In a video posted to Instagram recapping the conversation, Boebert again invoked an anti-Muslim trope by saying, “Make no mistake, I will continue to fearlessly put America first, never sympathizing with terrorists. Unfortunately, Ilhan can’t say the same thing.”
Rep. Tom ReedTom ReedNew York redistricting panel surrenders over impasse On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood In their own words: Lawmakers, staffers remember Jan. 6 insurrection MORE (N.Y.), one of the 13 House Republicans who came under fire for their infrastructure votes, said that GOP leaders should make more clear that rhetoric like Boebert’s is unacceptable.
“Well, I think when you’re in a position of leadership, you have to stand up. You have to deal with it. I appreciate the fact that Kevin called our colleague directly to discuss the matter with her. But at some point in time, you also have to stand up and just call it out for what it is. This type of rhetoric cannot be condoned. It cannot be upheld,” Reed said on CNN.
Yet alienating far-right members who are closely allied with Trump also carries risks for McCarthy.
Greene claimed on an episode of Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzOn The Money — Support for new COVID-19 relief grows House lawmakers urge Pelosi to bring stock trading ban to the floor Mask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House MORE’s (R-Fla.) podcast last week that McCarthy “doesn’t have the full support to be Speaker” because “there’s many of us that are very unhappy about the failure to hold Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar and many others just constantly take the abuse by the Democrats.”
McCarthy’s Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' It's time for 'Uncle Joe' to take off the gloves against Manchin and Sinema Democrats should ignore Senators Manchin and Sinema MORE (R-Ky.), has taken the opposite tack and distanced himself from Trump since the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
That’s resulted in regular attacks from Trump against McConnell, who has tended not to fire back. Trump has called McConnell an “old crow” and said he is “getting beaten on every front by the Radical Left Democrats” since agreeing to a temporary debt limit extension in October.
Greene touted her ties to Trump on Tuesday, tweeting that she had a “great conversation” with him about Mace.
“Don’t look now, but it’s MTG unable to take the heat, running to the [principal]’s office to tattletale because she can’t stand on her own two feet,” Mace responded. “Bless her heart.”