House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) attended a White House event this morning honoring the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but while he was there, the Republican chatted with reporters about his ongoing frustrations with Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), both of whom have agreed to serve on the Jan. 6 special select committee.
McCarthy was non-committal on whether he'll follow through on his threats to punish his own members, and he couldn't even recall the last time he'd spoken with Cheney or Kinzinger. Toward the end of his brief Q&A, the GOP leader said:
"Never in the history of America has a Speaker picked the other side, so they can predetermine what comes out."
McCarthy was referring, of course, to the special select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, though it's worth emphasizing that his description of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) work isn't quite right.
First, Pelosi offered Republicans an independent commission with an equal number of members from both parties. McCarthy refused. Second, Pelosi invited McCarthy to choose five House GOP members for the special select committee.
The minority leader responded with "malicious" choices who were clearly uninterested in taking the process seriously. Pelosi rejected two of the five selections -- prompting McCarthy to boycott the investigation altogether -- but she selected two Republicans to serve on the panel, bolstering its bipartisanship.
If Pelosi were only interested in "predetermining" the investigation's outcome, she would've stacked the committee with far-left firebrands, not two Republicans -- including one who, up until recently, served as a member of the House GOP leadership.
McCarthy nevertheless followed up this morning by calling Cheney and Kinzinger "Pelosi Republicans."
The New York Times' Jonathan Martin noted soon after, "None of this surprising, but past party schisms had at least some grounding in policy differences.... This has nothing to do with any policy issue."
Quite right. As the Republican Party continues to move further away from its role as a traditional governing party, and embraces its post-policy status, substantive differences have been rendered irrelevant. In this instance, McCarthy starts with two questions: "Are members loyal to Donald Trump?" and "Are members willing to help cover up what transpired during the insurrectionist riot on Jan. 6?"
If the answer to the questions is "yes," then members remain Republicans in good standing. If "no," they're partisan apostates.
In a party that cares about the substance of governing, these two would be considered conservative Republicans. In Kevin McCarthy's GOP, they're "Pelosi Republicans."