It’s not one big happy family in the House Republican Conference.
A public, drawn-out Tuesday spat between Reps. Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia put a spotlight on a battle over the Republican Party's identity that threatens to derail its focus away from defeating the Democrats.
Most of the members and leadership are hoping to move past the incident quickly and keep similar drama from happening again. The 2022 elections (in which Republicans have a very good chance of winning back the House) are at stake, and they believe the focus should be on taking down Democrats rather than each other.
“The drama doesn't have an impact on inflation. It doesn't have an impact on employment. It doesn't have an impact on policy that doesn't have an impact on anything else,” Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer told the Washington Examiner. “There's far more press interest than actual internal caucus interest or world relevance interest.”
In a conference meeting on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly told the members, “I’m not here to be your babysitter.”
MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE SAYS TRUMP PLANS TO ENDORSE PRIMARY CHALLENGER TO ‘TRASH’ NANCY MACE
Greene took aim at Mace after the South Carolina congresswoman criticized what Rep. Lauren Boebert said in a viral video while telling a story about being in a Capitol Hill elevator with Omar. “Well, she doesn't have a backpack. We should be fine," the Colorado Republican recalled saying to a Capitol Police officer in an apparent reference to suicide bombings.
Mace then criticized Boebert on CNN for “racist tropes and remarks that I find disgusting,” which prompted Greene to lash out on Twitter and started an hourslong back-and-forth between the two on Twitter and in media interviews.
Greene called Mace “trash,” not conservative, and falsely said the congresswoman favors abortion because Mace, a survivor of rape, opposes abortion but supports exceptions in cases of rape and incest. Mace used the emojis of a bat, a pile of feces, and a clown to describe Greene and called her a grifter who is unable to get anything done in Congress.
McCarthy reportedly spoke to Mace and Greene on Tuesday and asked them to stop attacking each other, to no avail. Greene went on to say that she and former President Donald Trump would back a primary challenge to Mace.
“It's incumbent upon members like myself to step up,” Mace told the Washington Examiner. “I don't fear retribution. I don't fear the consequences. I think that is a difference that you'll see between me and other members.”
To both Mace and Greene, both freshmen, the point of the public battle over ideology, style, and tactics is important for defining the future of the Republican Party.
“As a party, we can't bring other women into the fold or independents or women who've been victims like myself, women who are survivors like myself, we are doing nothing to advocate for them if we let that voice be the majority voice. It is not, and it never will be,” said Mace, who represents a swing district.
Greene, meanwhile, argued that the Republican Party should stop playing “to the middle to get the ‘swing voters,’” saying "all that has done is create the Uniparty, which has led us to this disaster.”
Battle lines were dawn.
Illinois Rep. Mary Miller, who like Greene is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, tweeted: “I stand with MTG.” Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, whom Democrats recently censured and removed from his committee assignments over a violent anime video he posted, also backed up Greene’s argument.
Mace, meanwhile, got support from Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a top Trump critic in the House who has been largely shunned by his conference and will not seek reelection.
The Mace-Greene fight, though, is only the latest intraparty division among House Republicans. Before Thanksgiving, a faction of right-wing conservatives in the conference angled to punish the 13 Republican members who voted in favor of an infrastructure bill in defiance of Republican leadership, resulting in a tense exchange during a conference meeting.
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To House Democrats, who for months battled internal ideological division and delays over the infrastructure and social spending bills, the focus on the GOP's divisions is a welcome development.
“Republicans are having a complete and total meltdown. 'Liar, clown, trash, grifter nut.' What happened to the kinder and gentler Republican Party? It doesn't exist,” New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a press conference Wednesday.