McCarthy: Cheney and Kinzinger are "Pelosi Republicans" for agreeing to join the January 6 committee

It’s getting chippy out there:

On both sides:

A “Pelosi Republican” is, I suppose, a Republican who’s anti-insurrection. In contrast to McCarthy Republicans, who run the gamut from anti-anti-insurrection to pro-.

A “Pelosi Republican” is also someone who’d accept a committee assignment from her over the objections of their own caucus leader. Cheney and Kinzinger qualify under that definition too:

Some of the MAGA members of the GOP caucus want to see consequences for the “Pelosi Republicans.” And maybe not just the MAGAs:

While the loudest cries have come from members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, sources say that the sentiment has started to spread beyond the hard-line crew.

“There’s a lot,” said one GOP member about the push to have the pair removed from their other committees. “Supporting Pelosi’s unprecedented move to reject McCarthy’s picks was a bridge too far.”…

Rep. Scott Perry, a Freedom Caucus member, publicly called on Conference Chair Elise Stefanik to call a special GOP conference meeting to “address appropriate measures” related to Pelosi booting two of McCarthy’s chosen picks from the committee. Some members specifically want McCarthy and Stefanik to push for a vote of GOP members to strip Cheney and Kinzinger, who both voted to impeach former President Donald Trump earlier this year, from their other committee assignments. Stefanik’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Perry’s desire for a conference meeting…

“Plenty of people wondering the same things,” another GOP member said. “If they are accepting appointments from Nancy Pelosi rather than the GOP, haven’t they already effectively left? Perhaps they should ask Speaker Pelosi for committee assignments?”

Stripping Cheney and Kinzinger of their assignments is harder than it seems. According to reporter Jonathan Allen, there are two ways McCarthy could do it. One is to force a vote of the full House on whether to remove them, a la what happened to Marjorie Taylor Greene a few months ago. But that’s destined to fail this time since Democrats control the majority. Cheney and Kinzinger will win that vote. The other option is for the House GOP to expel Cheney and Kinzinger from the caucus, making them de facto independents. They’d lose their assignments — temporarily, until Pelosi inevitably rewarded them by reappointing them to their committees.

One way or another, the two aren’t going anywhere over the next 18 months. After that, though? They’re almost certainly going home:

Allen thinks it’s unlikely that the caucus will move to expel Cheney and Kinzinger, as doing so requires a supermajority vote. I … do not share his skepticism:

Two-thirds is normally a high bar but all of the MAGA members of the caucus will vote enthusiastically to expel. Most of the rest, like Nancy Mace, don’t care about anything except surviving their next primary so they’ll vote yes too, to stay on the right side of their MAGA voters. All McCarthy would need is 140 or so R’s to boot both of them. I think he could get a lot more than that, especially since there’s a “neutral” procedural pretext for punishing them for their anti-insurrectionism. (“I’m not against them serving on a January 6 committee, I’m against them going over McCarthy’s head to do it.”)

Which is not to say that either Cheney or Kinzinger will be cowed into leaving the committee. On the contrary:

Cheney, as the committee’s de facto ranking Republican member, even plans to make an opening statement at tomorrow’s first committee hearing. She and Kinzinger know that serving on this panel will cost them their careers and are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Trying to kick them off their committees for their last 18 months won’t add any extra deterrence at this point. It might even come back to bite Republicans by letting Democrats argue that the GOP is angrier at members trying to investigate what happened on January 6 than it is at the rioters responsible for the attack. McCarthy doesn’t want to deal with that headache, which is why I doubt he’ll ask the caucus to punish Cheney and Kinzinger.

Although once Trump starts demanding it, all bets are off.

Speaking of which, I’ll leave you with Matt Gaetz offering the MAGA view.

David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022