https://www.newsweek.com-By Katherine Fung
Clockwise from top left: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks on August 2, 2022, in Washington, D.C.; Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on November 17, 2022, in Washington, D.C.; Representative Matt Gaetz on March 26, 2022, in Commerce, Georgia.; and Representative Lauren Boebert on June 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Republicans at every level can’t seem to get along, breaking into feuds that have snowballed into a series of mini civil wars across the GOP. Anna Moneymaker/Drew Angerer/Megan Varner/Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Republicans at every level can’t seem to get along, breaking into feuds that have snowballed into a series of mini civil wars across the GOP.
This year’s midterm elections—and the crowded primaries that came before those results—have revealed cracks within the GOP that have only further intensified as the party readies to take control of the House in the new year.
Although former President Donald Trump has often been at the center of intra-party quarrels, the factions and fronts of the latest dissent suggest that splits within the Republican Party run much deeper than Trump’s decision to run for 2024.
The disputes that have recently erupted into public view include an attack from House Republicans on their Senate counterparts, a divide between MAGA-aligned members of Congress over a possible speakership for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and an increasingly tough battle over who should lead the national Republican party.
“Republicans have always faced factional infighting at all levels of politics,” Jon Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, told Newsweek. “At various times, it has been House versus Senate, purists versus pragmatists, or simply one ambitious leader versus another.”
Although intra-party feuds are not new, Republican strategist Jay Townsend said the current civil war is “a symptom of a policy-phobic party held together by visceral hatred of Democrats.”
Townsend told Newsweek that while the current Republican Party knows what it is they disagree with, they are unable to articulate what they are for. “It is the reason McCarthy can’t unite his caucus. It is the reason for unrest at the RNC. It is the reason MAGA stalwarts are shooting at the Senate leader,” he said.
Here is a breakdown of the players and issues central to today’s GOP infighting.
House Republicans Attack GOP Senators over Omnibus
On Monday, a group of 13 House Republicans vowed to retaliate against their colleagues in the Senate over the year-end omnibus spending bill that lawmakers would need to approve by Friday to avert a government shutdown.
The strongly worded letter—signed by Representatives Chip Roy, Matt Gaetz, Scott Perry, Dan Bishop, Andy Biggs, Matthew Rosendale, Ralph Norman, Bob Good, Byron Donalds and Andrew Clyde, and Representative-elects Anna Paulina, Andy Ogles and Eli Crane—cautioned Senate Republicans about backing the massive bill or risk being a target of their own party.
“We are obliged to inform you that if any omnibus passes in the remaining days of this Congress, we will oppose and whip opposition to any legislative priority of those senators who vote for this bill, including the Republican leader,” the letter reads. “We will oppose any rule, any consent request, suspension voice vote, or roll call vote of any such Senate bill, and will otherwise do everything in our power to thwart even the smallest legislative and policy efforts of those senators.”
Pitney said the threats are one way for the House’s most conservative members to guarantee “turf in the form of committee assignments and places in the room where it happens.”
Bipartisan negotiators have reportedly assembled a $1.7 trillion government funding bill that even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has hailed as having a “strong outcome” for the GOP.
As Democrats rush to pass the bill before the Friday deadline, and while they remain in control of the House, the group of 13 Republicans urged senators to “take all steps necessary” to block the bill from passing “just days before Members fly home for Christmas and two weeks before a new Republican majority is sworn in.”
Despite those efforts, McConnell reiterated his support for the omnibus package on Tuesday, urging the Senate to pass the bill hours before the first procedural vote is set to begin this afternoon.
MAGA Fight Over McCarthy Speakership
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was hoping to win over right-wing members of Congress with endorsements from Trump and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, but even approvals from the MAGA superstars aren’t convincing the likes of Representative Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz to select McCarthy as the next speaker of the House.
Boebert and Gaetz are among the defectors who are launching the mini-revolt against a McCarthy speakership in favor of a leader who is further to the right, like the chair of the Freedom Caucus, Representative Andy Biggs, who is challenging McCarthy in the speaker race.
On Monday, Gaetz publicly broke from Trump’s position while expressing his opposition to a McCarthy speakership, telling Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, “I can’t wait to vote for Donald Trump in the 2024 election but if Donald Trump believes that Kevin McCarthy should be Speaker of the House, then Donald Trump is wrong.”
The disagreement over who should lead the House Republicans when they take back the chamber of Congress even led Boebert to accuse Greene of “blindly following Kevin McCarthy.” On Monday, she told the Daily Caller that she would not go in that direction with Greene. Then, during a speech at Turning Point USA‘s annual conference, Boebert said she would not vote for McCarthy unless there is a mechanism to easily strip him from the post.
Her opposition to McCarthy, and ridicule of Greene for supporting him, has earned her pushback from Greene, who previously supported and donated to Boebert’s campaigns.
“She gladly takes our $$$ but when she’s been asked: Lauren refuses to endorse President Trump, she refuses to support Kevin McCarthy, and she childishly threw me under the bus for a cheap sound bite,” Greene tweeted on Monday.
“Americans expect conservative fighters like us to work together to Save America and that is the only mission I’m 100% devoted to, not high school drama and media sound bites,” the Georgia congresswoman added.
Greene’s defense of McCarthy has led political observers to suspect that the congresswoman has struck a deal with the congressman, giving her leverage for the next Congress.
“It is obvious that MTG is being 100% transactional with her support. She has likely been assured of something in return for her support of Rep. McCarthy’s speakership,” GOP strategist Alex Patton previously told Newsweek in an email. “If Rep. McCarthy becomes speaker and MTG gets what she wants, she will immediately return to the warm embrace of the crazy caucus.”
Greene has denied these claims, saying, “Nothing has changed about me and I had no deals I had to make to support Kevin McCarthy.”
The Battle Over the RNC Chair
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wants to lead the national party through the 2024 presidential election, but the conservative movement’s loudest voices say they’ve had enough of her leadership and are pointing to this year’s midterm flop as proof that it’s time for McDaniel to go.
The chairwoman’s most formidable challenger is Harmeet Dhillon, an RNC member and election law attorney who has represented Trump.
While Dhillon’s California RNC hasn’t won a statewide race for office since 2006, she’s been able to drum up some support, largely due to conservatives who just want to see a new face chair the national GOP.
“[McDaniel] was elected three times without opposition, and we’ve lost all three times, all three cycles,” Roger Villere, an RNC committeeman from Louisiana who is supporting Dhillon, told Politico.
Even Trump, who picked McDaniel to lead the RNC after he won in 2016, has declined to endorse a candidate for next month’s election.
In a Breitbart interview published on Sunday, Trump said, “I think they’re both good. I like them both.”
Although Dhillon’s candidacy has gained steam, she will have a difficult task of peeling supporters away from McDaniel. Letters of endorsement show the current chairwoman with support from 107 of the RNC’s 168 members. She only needs a simple majority, or 85 votes, to win.
Trump acolyte MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has also said he’s “100 percent” making a long-shot run for the position, and Representative Lee Zeldin, whose stronger-than-expected performance in New York’s governor’s race, had considered a challenge to McDaniel before deciding against it.