McCarthy pleads with Republicans to stop infighting: ‘Congress is not junior high’

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In this image from House Television, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks on the House floor during debate on the Democrats' expansive social and environment bill at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Washington. (House Television via AP)

In this image from House Television, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks on the House floor during debate on the Democrats’ expansive social and environment bill at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Washington. (House Television via AP)

WASHINGTON (The Hill) – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday pleaded with Republicans to stop attacking each other as they keep getting mired in nasty personal fights, admonishing them that “Congress is not junior high.” 

During a closed-door meeting with rank-and-file Republicans, McCarthy said that the intraparty squabbles among a handful of Republicans — primarily between the far-right flank and more moderate members — weren’t helpful for the GOP as they seek to win back the majority in 2022.

While “99 percent were doing the right thing,” McCarthy said, he urged the remaining 1 percent of his GOP conference to stop the infighting and to quit talking publicly about a Speaker’s race that is more than a year away, according to a source in the room. 

McCarthy did not name any names in the meeting, but his remarks appeared to be aimed at conservative rabble rousers like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who have said McCarthy doesn’t yet have the votes within the GOP conference to be Speaker if they win the House majority.

His comments generated audible grumbling from a trio of Trump loyalists — Greene, Gaetz and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) — who were sitting together in the meeting, according to a GOP lawmaker. 

“Congress is not junior high,” McCarthy admonished his members, adding that Republicans had a higher calling in Washington and that they have a chance in next year’s midterms to change the world. 

Republicans only have to flip five seats to win the House majority in next year’s elections. But they’ve remained mired in infighting in recent weeks despite efforts to focus on messaging against Democrats’ social spending and climate package.

The latest flareup came on Tuesday, when Greene and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) spent much of the day launching personal attacks at each other via Twitter. 

The fight began when Mace said during a CNN interview over the weekend that she condemned Islamophobic comments from Boebert suggesting that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, could be a terrorist.

Mace’s comments drew the ire of Greene, who tweeted that the first-term South Carolina lawmaker is “the trash in the GOP conference.” 

Mace fired back — using bat, excrement and clown emoji — that Greene was “batshit crazy.”

McCarthy has repeatedly tried to tamp down fires within the House GOP conference over the past few weeks, to limited avail. 

Two weeks ago, McCarthy tried to quash a push from some far-right members to take away committee assignments from the 13 House Republicans who voted with Democrats for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

That came the same week that two Republicans, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Liz Cheney (Wyo.), voted with Democrats to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and remove him from committees for posting an edited anime video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). 

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