On the day that former President Donald Trump is set to announce another bid for the White House, Congressional Republicans found that the schism in their ranks that helped create a disappointing 2022 election is still, uh, schisming.
House Republicans elected (sort of) Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, but whether he can actually fulfill that role won’t be known until January. Republicans are justifiably irritated that McCarthy had so much trouble leading the GOP toward re-taking the House after they only needed to flip 5 seats.
There was talk on Monday from some less-crazy Republicans that a Congress-wide Speakership battle might still be upcoming, though perhaps that will be avoided now. Nevertheless, as the Omaha World-Herald reports:
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said that he would be willing to reach across the aisle to elect a speaker if necessary.
Bacon plans to support McCarthy, but he said on Monday that he would work with Democrats to find a new candidate if McCarthy doesn’t get enough votes, in order to keep Congress from becoming gridlocked and ineffective.
“If we have total gridlock, I’m going to work with like-minded people across the aisle to find someone agreeable for speaker,” Bacon said. “We have to govern. We can’t afford to let our country be stuck in neutral.”
Elsewhere, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has an official challenger to his bid to hold on to power. Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in 2022, announced that he will battle the old turtle for GOP Senate supremacy.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) announced a challenge to Mitch McConnell in a closed-door party lunch on Tuesday afternoon, the first such opposition that the Senate GOP leader is facing in 15 years at the helm.
The challenge emerged after Republicans’ disappointing midterm performance provoked a tremendous round of finger-pointing. Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee and got nudged to mount opposition to McConnell by former President Donald Trump, was at odds with the GOP leader over strategy and tactics for months before Election Day.
McConnell says he already has the votes locked up to win a Wednesday leadership election, and Scott is not expected to garner enough support to come close to toppling the leader. But Scott is pressing forward anyway, as a band of conservatives pushes to delay leadership elections until all the Senate races are determined. [Pols emphasis]
That last paragraph makes this fight particularly interesting. Scott probably can’t win against McConnell, but he’s going to try anyway just to prove some sort of point.
As The Washington Post reported earlier today:
Allies of Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, on Tuesday called out the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund for its lack of spending on ads supporting GOP candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Senate runoff.
It’s the latest show of tensions between McConnell (R-Ky.) and Scott, who have long been at odds over messaging, strategy and the direction of the Republican Party, and comes just three weeks before the Dec. 6 runoff.
Curt Anderson, a top adviser to Scott, on Tuesday noted on Twitter that the super PAC aligned with the Senate minority leader has yet to run ads attacking Sen. Raphael G. Warnock, the Democratic incumbent. “Have they given up?” he asked. In a later tweet, Anderson tagged the Senate Leadership Fund’s Twitter account, saying that “the Georgia runoff is 1/4 over with. Election is scheduled for December 6. FYI.”
McConnell and Scott have been battling for months about which direction to drive the Senate Republican caucus in 2024. Scott has been accused by some of screwing up the NRSC in 2022 and pissing away hundreds of millions of dollars; animosity was already stirring after Scott rolled out some asinine policy proposals earlier this year. McConnell, meanwhile, has taken criticism for not doing enough to help Republicans via his own PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund.
It’s certainly possible that Congress may convene in January with McCarthy and McConnell both in their long-expected leadership roles. But the fact that these questions don’t already have answers is another ominous sign for a reeling Republican Party.