GOP House Speaker Battle Shows Discord Between Pro-Trump Lawmakers

  • After a week-long disarray and 15 rounds, Kevin McCarthy was elected speaker.
  • The battle for the speaker caused divisions among the hard right wing of the party.
  • McCarthy may have difficulty managing the small GOP majority due to the events of the last week.

What would have been the first week of the House GOP’s return in the majority after 2018, became a chaotic, days-long battle for who would lead Congress in the 118th Congress.

After you have completed the following: wild Friday night on the House floor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy ultimately won the speakership after 15 rounds of votingDuring which a hardline group of 20 RepublicansHe refused to allow me to vote until he made some concessions. Although the extent of these concessions were not completely clear, it revealed a GOP with new divisions.

Insider was told by Kevin Kosar (a senior fellow at The American Enterprise Institute who studies Congress, US politics), that “it’s a schizophrenia within a schizophrenia.”

The GOP for years has increasingly been divided into MAGA-type lawmakers — essentially devoted supporters of former President Donald Trump — and those more willing to go against or distance themselves from the former president.

But the speaker battle showed those MAGA lawmakers are divided amongst themselves more than ever before, suggesting the bloc may be more unpredictable in the new Congress than it previously seemed — which could make McCarthy’s job of navigating a slim majority much more difficult.

The ‘Trumpy tribe is divided

Kosar stated that factions within parties are “normal.” “If we didn’t have factions within the parties, it would be kinda creepy.”

He pointed out the MAGA lawmakers, who often oppose the Republican establishment. But he also pointed to the progressive DemocratsReps. Alexandria OcasioCortez and Pramila Jajapal are two examples of people who have fought with and made demands on their leadership.

However, MAGA representatives, many who are members of House Freedom Caucus, have almost unanimously gathered around similar causes, usually taking the stance Trump. These lawmakers include Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, Matt Gaetz from Florida, Lauren Boebert in Colorado, Jim Jordan from Ohio, Scott Perry in Pennsylvania, and Scott Perry.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., left, talks with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., during the eleventh vote in the House chamber as the House meets for the third day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R. Fla., talks to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene R. Georgia, during the eleventh voting in the House chamber. This is as the House meets for its third day to elect a speaker.

Alex Brandon/Associated Press



They were among those Republicans who supported Trump’s extreme views, including false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential elections and all voted to overturn the election resultsOn January 6, 2021

Several of them were on opposing sides during the House speaker battle this past week, even though their would-be leader, Trump took a stance.

“Trump himself is shouting at people to support McCarthy and guess, you’ve got twenty people just ignoring him,” Kosar said. He also suggested that the “Trumpy tribe,” which includes people in the House, has actually decreased “because they have split between themselves.”

Greene and Gaetz had been longtime allies and were now in direct opposition. McCarthy and Gaetz led the charge against McCarthy. Greene also complained that Gaetz and other Freedom Caucus members, such as Perry and Boebert, were not being treated fairly. shut her out of negotiations with McCarthy.

“Does anyone know why I’m so upset?” Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert, along with Scott Perry, the Freedom Caucus chairman, walked into Kevin McCarthy’s office last night to make their own demands about the subcommittee chairships they want, as well as who they want on the committees. Guess what? “And guess what? The Freedom Caucus chairman did not negotiate anything for me.”

Jordan stood behind McCarthy and pitted him against Perry, his close ally. “These men used to be brothers in arms. No. Kosar stated that this topic is not covered.

Many were watching to see Trump’s comments. However, when McCarthy endorsed McCarthy and asked lawmakers to back the Californian on Wednesday, the 20 remaining partisans didn’t change their tune. Trump’s own influence is diminishing in the MAGA wing of the party.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., talks to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., after Gaetz voted "present" in the House chamber as the House meets for the fourth day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

After Rep. Matt Gaetz voted “present,” in the House chamber, the House meets for its fourth day to elect a speaker.

Alex Brandon/Associated Press



Navigating divisions with a small majority 

McCarthy won the speakership by making concessionsto the hardline Republicans opposing his nomination. Reports, including from BloombergAnd PoliticoAccording to, those concessions could include a cap on government spending and a House rules framework. This would reduce the speaker’s power while giving more power to individual members. 

McCarthy, for instance, was reported to have agreed to a rule modification expand the rights of members to “motion to vacate the chair,”This would allow a single lawmaker, to force a chamberwide “no confidence vote” for the speaker.

With such a slim majority over the Democrats — 222-213 — McCarthy will need the support of almost every member of his party to pass legislation. Even though MAGA lawmakers represent a small portion of the Republican conference members, McCarthy will still require their support.

With new divisions, animosities and a House speaker battle on display, it is unclear how McCarthy will be capable of achieving that goal.

“How many sore eyes will there be after all this is done? How many people felt hurt from the other side of this? Insider heard this week from Kosar, just before Friday’s final vote.

“And how will that affect the GOP’s ability to build majorities, cooperate, and pull the team together? That’s a open question.

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