Internal House GOP Meeting Was So Dysfunctional That One Member Left to Go Pray

According to reports, Republicans decried death threats sent by Jim Jordan supporters, Matt Gaetz almost physically fought a McCarthy supporter, and more.

Internal House GOP Meeting Was So Dysfunctional That One Member Left to Go Pray
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It’s Day 16 without a House Speaker, and somehow, things have only managed to get weirder since Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted by his sworn nemesis Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). After Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) lost two consecutive Speaker votes this week, House Republicans on Thursday regrouped for an internal meeting that reportedly spanned almost four hours to figure out a path forward. And, by all accounts, they have not figured one out!

In fact, the meeting was apparently so dysfunctional and “emotional” that at least one member left to go to the chapel and pray, others almost came to physical blows, and a handful are still pretty pissed about death threats and other anonymous threats they and their spouses have received over their opposition to Jordan.

In the meeting, Jordan backed a compromise to empower current Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry as an “interim” Speaker to oversee the House through January—in order to give Jordan more time to whip the vote. (This was backed by McCarthy.) Jordan has been clear he’s determined to remain in the race for Speaker and only proposed giving McHenry temporary Speaker powers to give himself more time to whip the vote. But numerous House Republicans reportedly told Jordan point-blank that he would never get the votes needed to become Speaker. “No one in this room can get 217,” Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX), who backed Jordan, said, per CNN’s Melanie Zanona.

Meanwhile, other Jordan backers like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Gaetz, and Jim Banks (R-IN) said they were disappointed with Jordan’s proposed compromise. Banks, in fact, apparently called it an “F-U” to Republican voters and even said, “[Republicans] don’t deserve the majority.” Further, Jordan’s opponents said his proposed compromise didn’t change their position either.

“Other Republicans stood up and expressed fury over Jordan for backing the empowering McHenry resolution, and suggested it was a self-serving move. Some members encouraged him to drop out of Speaker’s race,” Zanona wrote. After the meeting, Jordan ultimately said his caucus won’t move forward with his pitch to give McHenry temporary Speaker powers. He told reporters that the caucus “decided that wasn’t where we’re going to go,” and that he’s “still running for speaker.”

Jordan’s proposal was just one source of conflict in the meeting. One Axios reporter tweeted that, per a source in the room, when Gaetz rose to speak, “McCarthy screamed at [him] to sit down” and Rep. Michael Bost (R-IL) “almost [lunged] at him.” Zanona further reported that Bost spewed profanities at Gaetz, “telling him it’s all his fault.” In September, Gaetz accused McCarthy of paying online right-wing influencers to shit-talk him and got into a heated argument with him in front of the whole caucus. One can reasonably conclude that, in addition to endemic incompetence in the caucus, Republicans’ current predicament is very much rooted in bad blood and catty feuds. As one Twitter user joked, can you imagine if the Capitol allowed open carry??

House Republicans also raged about threats made to some of them for opposing Jordan. On Wednesday Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) revealed his wife has received anonymous threats over his votes against Jordan in favor of McCarthy. Apparently, at the behest of Jordan’s prominent far-right backers who include Sean Hannity and Steve Bannon, angry Republicans have been harassing members who vote against Jordan with “death threats and menacing messages.”

It’s not clear who said what about the alleged death threats aimed at Jordan detractors in the closed-door meeting. But earlier in the day on Thursday, Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), who voted for Jordan on the first ballot, released a statement explaining why he voted against Jordan on the second, citing the bullying and harassment carried out in his name: “Following the first vote, I had genuine concerns about the threatening tactics and pressure campaigns Jordan and his allies were using to leverage members for their votes.” He said he “discussed this directly with [Jordan], and planned to support him on the second ballot,” but “when the pressure campaigns and attacks on fellow members ramped up, it became clear to me that the House Republican Conference does not need a bully as the Speaker.” Then, after voting for Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Wednesday, Ferguson claims he and his family started receiving “death threats” from Jordan’s supporters.

One House Republican who voted against Jordan reportedly needed “a sheriff stationed at their daughter’s school” on Thursday because of threats from Jordan supporters.

By the end of the meeting, Rep. Mike Gallagher R-WI) said he was “going up to the chapel to pray the rosary” as he left the conference meeting “looking deflated,” according to CNN’s Haley Talbot. I can’t even fathom how foul things got in the closed-door meeting that one member was compelled to flee to church to wash it clean. One can only surmise the horrors Gallagher witnessed that necessitated immediate, urgent spiritual comfort and penance.

In any case, for all its theatrics and absurdity, the House Republican meeting doesn’t seem to have provided anything but entertainment, as tangible solutions continue to evade them. Around 4 p.m. on Thursday, Talbot reported that Jordan is making the rounds to meet and plead with the 22 House Republicans who oppose him; he can only afford four holdouts to win the Speakership. But I can’t imagine bridging the divide of death threats to members’ family members in his name is going to be easy.

Mind you, as the halls of Congress apparently burn down in a conflagration of Republican incompetence and resentment, we are weeks away from another potential government shutdown and in the midst of possibly the most fraught geopolitical moment in recent history. But you go get ‘em, Jim Jordan! Take as many rounds of fruitless voting from a caucus that clearly does not want you as you need while the world burns.

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