While no one is asking McCarthy or Scalise to step down from their posts – they were only elected unanimously, after all, to take on another term in office – tensions within the conference are undoubtedly high.
“There is a little bit of anger but a lot of disappointment,” said one GOP member in an interview. “And what you saw with Steve and Kevin was like, we’re just going to get on with the right-wing narrative and they didn’t get the moment. It’s a hassle.”
“When you are a leader, you have to look around the corner,” added the legislature.
The initially anonymous review provides a preview of the forthcoming settlement in the Republican Party, which was unified and energized following the reclamation of 10 house seats in November. But since then, Trump’s audacious efforts to undermine the elections have split the GOP violently, which could put their efforts to win back the majority – and McCarthy’s dream of claiming the speaker’s gavel – at risk.
“We’re on the bad road. Every member of Congress needs to understand what matters – what we are saying and how we are saying it is important, “Republican Policy Committee Chairman Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) Said in an interview Friday.
Some lawmakers even question whether this could hurt McCarthy’s long-term standing in the party. The California Republican has built his political brand over the past four years on his close relationship with Trump – a political calculation that has put him in line with the GOP of the House, which for the most part remains for Trump.
Even so, McCarthy appeared to be doing some damage control on Friday by issuing a statement recognizing Joe Biden as president-elect for the first time and saying he had reached out to Biden in hopes of de-escalating and de-escalating the fiery rhetoric to work towards unification the country.
The remarks are the first outward sign that McCarthy is offering Biden an olive branch – and Trump is turning the page.
“Our country is not just divided. We are deeply hurt, “said McCarthy in his statement. “The task ahead for the next Congress and the future Biden administration couldn’t be more significant. But to create a better America for all, partisans of all kinds must first unite as Americans and show our country that a peaceful change of power has taken place. “
Some simple members also hit each other. The MP Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) Said he was “embarrassed” by some of his colleagues.
And Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), a Navy SEAL wounded in Afghanistan, told The Houston Chronicle: “All the members, telling everyone to come and fight and take their last stand, were scattered like cowards while the Capitol Police had to fight.”
McCarthy and Scalise, who survived an assassination attempt on a GOP baseball practice session in 2017, were quick to condemn the outbreaks of violence on Wednesday, despite avoiding criticism of Trump. And when the rioters broke through the Capitol, McCarthy said on ABC News that he “asked” Trump to contact the nation instead of just posting a tweet.
However, some GOP members wanted their top leaders to further distance the party from Trump, whom Republicans across the spectrum believe are responsible for sending protesters to the Capitol with anger and misunderstanding about the Congressional election certification process. Even some members of the tough Freedom Caucus said Trump was responsible for the mob attack.
“Basically, I disagreed with the White House and most of my Republican colleagues … that the Constitution is clear, we count the voters and we should say so,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a member the House Freedom Caucus, which spoke out against objections to the election results in Congress.
“I think Republicans had to be more responsible in explaining this reality rather than bringing up a reality that just wasn’t true.”
Some lawmakers have also been angry that McCarthy and Scalise – along with over 120 House Republicans who easily make up a majority in the conference – still supported objections against voters from multiple states after the riot.
“I didn’t agree to go forward and object to a second state,” said newly minted MP Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Who has been physically threatened since speaking out against contesting the election results. “I just wish we’d taken a moment and said this wasn’t the time or the place.”
Even before the violence broke out, a Republican lawmaker said they were “disgusted” with the way McCarthy handled Trump’s false claims of electoral fraud, including advising some freshmen which states had the highest cases of objection.
Kinzinger, a vocal Trump critic who has called for Trump to be removed from office immediately, has not criticized any GOP leaders in the House by name. However, in a tweet he said, “Leaders who have led this should all step down so that adults and fortune tellers can #RestoreOurGOP.”
Other Republicans, however, blame Trump. And some GOP members came to McCarthy’s defense, arguing that behind the scenes he actually helped contain some of Trump’s worst impulses over the years.
“I think McCarthy was Trump’s most moderating factor throughout his tenure,” said a Republican member. “I think it’s underestimated how much sense Kevin makes with Trump, and I think Trump listened to Kevin more or as much as anyone else.”
The McCarthy and Scalise approach put them directly at odds with Cheney, the No. 3 Republican, who was viewed as someone who might one day try to climb the executive level.
She has repeatedly positioned herself against controversial Trump decisions, to the indignation of Trump loyalists. Some of them had even discussed recruiting someone to challenge them for the conference chair.
But now, not only does she seem largely forgiven by some of her critics for becoming a slide for Trump, but she also sees her rise when Freedom Caucus members break up with Trump – and even each other. A Freedom Caucus member even tracked Cheney Wednesday to thank her, a GOP source said.
“People will look at this moment when they see who will lead the party,” said a GOP legislator. “[Cheney’s] Political capital has increased considerably. She had the courage of her convictions. “
McCarthy has also gone a very different path than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Who actively prevented Republican Senators from joining the anti-certification effort, and voted in Biden’s victory as “the main vote.” I “have ever occupied. “
McCarthy’s allies, however, said he was trying to remain publicly neutral in order to maintain the unity of the conference. He did not announce his position prior to the certification vote, encouraged members not to attack one another for their positions, allowed members to discuss the issue during a two-hour conference meeting, and campaigned for Republicans on both sides the conference were debate should have speaking time on the floor.
But any goodwill McCarthy created among GOP lawmakers to oppose the objection efforts seems to have dissolved after pro-Trump rioters raided the Capitol.
“McCarthy hurt his brand,” remarked another GOP member, adding, “Scaling was to be expected.”