During a press gaggle on Air Force One yesterday, a reporter asked Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher if President Joe Biden had any reaction to the censure vote against Republican Rep. Paul Gosar. After Meagher made clear that the president believes there's "no place in our political system and our institutions for violence," the spokesperson raised a separate point.
"[W]hen you're looking at the discussions taking place on the Hill, you know, it's ironic that people on the other side of the aisle are willing to step up and give their colleagues a hard time for voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and unwilling to say anything when [Gosar] promotes violence on social media," Meagher said.
He clearly had a point. As Politico reported overnight, Republicans are once again "getting in their own way."
Ahead of a vote on Democrats' biggest agenda item, the GOP conference is embroiled in messy internal spats that have spilled into public view, including the censure Wednesday of a far-right House member, the first such vote in more than a decade. At the same time, some rank-and-file Republicans are still pushing to punish their own colleagues for backing a bipartisan bill reviled by former President Donald Trump.
If nothing else, the public is learning exactly what generates outrage among House Republicans in 2021. When Democrats insisted that Gosar face censure and lose his committee assignments for releasing a video in which he's depicted as killing one of his congressional colleagues, nearly every GOP lawmaker in the chamber balked. His misconduct, they said, just wasn't worthy of punishment.
But many of those same House Republicans continue to argue that voting for a bipartisan infrastructure package is worthy of punishment.
To be sure, this isn't coming out of nowhere. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act cleared the House the evening of Nov. 5, thanks in part to 13 votes from GOP lawmakers. (In the Senate, 19 Republicans voted for the same bill.)
By Nov. 9, there were multiple reports that rank-and-file House Republicans weren't just criticizing those who supported the legislation, they also wanted to impose the same punishment that Democrats imposed on Gosar: GOP members who voted for the bill should lose their committee assignments, according to their own GOP colleagues.
The message was hardly subtle: The House Republican conference could tolerate a violent video, but not a bipartisan policy victory for the Democratic White House.
As members returned to Capitol Hill this week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy encouraged his members to focus on criticizing Democrats and their agenda, not the 13 Republicans who backed the infrastructure bill.
And yet, the intra-party disarray continues as Republicans keep "getting in their own way."