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As bipartisanship reigns in U.S. Senate, Republicans rage in House

Economy3 hours ago (Jul 29, 2021 04:02PM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) responds to questions as he holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo


By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A day after the U.S. Senate passed a major bipartisan milestone on infrastructure, Republicans in the House of Representatives lapsed into bitter partisanship and infighting, attacking both Democrats and Republican opponents of former President Donald Trump.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans poured scorn on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and blamed President Joe Biden for a host of national ills including inflation, violent crime, illegal border crossings and what he termed politically motivated COVID-19 health guidelines.

“We just need to make sure we fire Nancy Pelosi,” McCarthy said while delivering a 2022 campaign-style message that House Republicans will echo to constituents during a seven-week break that begins on Friday. Republicans repeatedly referred to Pelosi as a “lame duck” speaker.

Hardline conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus, which includes some of Trump’s staunchest allies, later called for Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger to be ousted from the party caucus for joining a House committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters despite Republican opposition to the panel.

The House Republican invective contrasted with actions in the evenly split Senate, which advanced a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Wednesday and then passed a $2.1 billion emergency measure to aid Capitol security and Afghan allies on Thursday in a 98-0 vote.

“These members should not be allowed in our closed-door private meetings or even the Republican cloakroom,” Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican freshman who has been accused by Democrats of aiding the mob attack.

“Both Liz and Adam have simped for Pelosi as she has consolidated power,” she added, using slang for being obsequious.

The Freedom Caucus includes lawmakers who could be called to testify before the Jan. 6 committee. It urged McCarthy to help eject Cheney and Kinzinger, who both voted to impeach Trump for allegedly inciting the Capitol attack by falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

The caucus also asked McCarthy to pursue politically risky parliamentary action to seek Pelosi’s ouster.

McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

A Cheney spokesman said in a statement that Freedom Caucus members “represent a dangerous rot that is rooted in the Big Lie, conspiracy theories, bigotry and disrespect for the rule of law and our law enforcement.”

“These are the same members who push conspiracy theories to their constituents and outright lie for their own personal gain,” a Kinzinger spokeswoman said.

Partisan House feuds over the Jan. 6 probe and new COVID-19 mask restrictions were already surging by the time McCarthy and other House Republican leaders held their “Country in Crisis” press conference on the Capitol steps.

Tempers flared after the House chief physician urged lawmakers to resume wearing masks to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19. Republicans defied the guidance and railed against Pelosi’s “tyranny” after learning that U.S. Capitol Police could arrest visitors and staff who refuse to comply.

McCarthy dismissed the physician’s guidance as “a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.” A Pelosi aide denounced his comments as “moronic” after reports that the top House Democrat herself had called McCarthy a “moron.”

Like McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has sharply criticism Biden and Democrats over spending measures and blocked Pelosi’s effort to launch a Jan. 6 commission.

But McConnell also backed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, after using his influence to trim the package back from the White House’s original $2.3 trillion goal, focus it on physical infrastructure and reject proposed tax hikes.

As a result, McConnell again became a target for Trump, who was unable to broker an infrastructure agreement as president. Trump issued a statement accusing the top Senate Republican of “weak leadership … giving Democrats everything they want and getting nothing in return.”

Asked to name something good that Biden has done since taking office in January, McCarthy instead doubled down on his criticism before concluding: “I haven’t found many things that they have done right, no.”

As bipartisanship reigns in U.S. Senate, Republicans rage in House

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