McCarthy pleads with Republicans to stop infighting: 'Congress is not junior high'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyFormer acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump MORE (R-Calif.) on Wednesday pleaded with Republicans to stop attacking each other as they keep getting mired in nasty personal fights, admonishing them that “Congress is not junior high.” 

During a closed-door meeting with rank-and-file Republicans, McCarthy said that the intraparty squabbles among a handful of Republicans — primarily between the far-right flank and more moderate members — weren’t helpful for the GOP as they seek to win back the majority in 2022.

While “99 percent were doing the right thing,” McCarthy said, he urged the remaining 1 percent of his GOP conference to stop the infighting and to quit talking publicly about a Speaker’s race that is more than a year away, according to a source in the room. 

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McCarthy did not name any names in the meeting, but his remarks appeared to be aimed at conservative rabble rousers like 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 Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGallego on Jan. 6 rioters: 'F--- them' The Hill's Morning Report - For Biden, it goes from bad to worse Gaetz ex testified to federal grand jury in sex crimes investigation MORE (R-Fla.), who have said McCarthy doesn’t yet have the votes within the GOP conference to be Speaker if they win the House majority.

His comments generated audible grumbling from a trio of Trump loyalists — Greene, Gaetz and Rep. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertTop House Democrat pushes for 'isolation boxes' for maskless lawmakers Congress restores strict health protocols during omicron-fueled surge Boebert, Clyde fined for defying House floor mask mandate MORE (R-Colo.) — who were sitting together in the meeting, according to a GOP lawmaker. 

“Congress is not junior high,” McCarthy admonished his members, adding that Republicans had a higher calling in Washington and that they have a chance in next year’s midterms to change the world. 

Republicans only have to flip five seats to win the House majority in next year’s elections. But they’ve remained mired in infighting in recent weeks despite efforts to focus on messaging against Democrats’ social spending and climate package.

The latest flareup came on Tuesday, when Greene and Rep. Nancy MaceNancy MaceHouse Democratic conference postponed due to COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Mace tests positive for COVID-19 a second time MORE (R-S.C.) spent much of the day launching personal attacks at each other via Twitter. 

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The fight began when Mace said during a CNN interview over the weekend that she condemned Islamophobic comments from Boebert suggesting that Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarSenate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Overnight Defense & National Security — DOD watchdog to review extremism screening Omar calls for closure of Guantánamo Bay prison after 20 years of 'lawlessness and cruelty' MORE (D-Minn.), one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, could be a terrorist.

Mace’s comments drew the ire of Greene, who tweeted that the first-term South Carolina lawmaker is “the trash in the GOP conference.” 

Mace fired back — using bat, excrement and clown emoji — that Greene was “batshit crazy.”

McCarthy has repeatedly tried to tamp down fires within the House GOP conference over the past few weeks, to limited avail. 

Two weeks ago, McCarthy tried to quash a push from some far-right members to take away committee assignments from the 13 House Republicans who voted with Democrats for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

That came the same week that two Republicans, Reps. 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 (Ill.) and Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump MORE (Wyo.), voted with Democrats to censure Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarMcCarthy says he'll strip Dems of committee slots if GOP wins House Should we expand the House of Representatives? The Founders thought so Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Ariz.) and remove him from committees for posting an edited anime video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSen. Brian Schatz tests positive for COVID-19 Democrats call on FDA to revisit ban on gay, bisexual men donating blood amid shortage Senate Democrats introduce bill to ban stock trades in Congress MORE (D-N.Y.).