Republican infighting is earning new condemnations and rebukes from leaders in the party as the GOP heads into a difficult summer marked by war in Europe and fast-approaching congressional hearings over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Division between the base and the party’s leaders have led to infighting and instability, weakening a unified message before voters go to the polls in November.
Historically, the party in power loses seats in Congress during the midterm election cycle, a trend many thought would hold up at the expense of President Joe Biden’s agenda amid a crushing wave of consumer inflation.
Democrats, however, likely feel heartened at the disarray they see across the aisle. Stark differences were on display at the State of the Union address, when Representative Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., heckled President Joe Biden during a portion of the speech when he spoke about the death of his son, Beau.
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was caught on camera nearby, appearing to say “shut up” to Boebert.
The same day before the address, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly shredded the election-year agenda offered up last week by the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair, Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla.
Among other items, Scott propose that virtually all Americans pay at least some tax irrespective of longstanding income limits that shield nearly half of the country from federal taxes.
“We will not have as part of my agenda a bill that raises taxes on the half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years,” said McConnell, echoing Democrat talking points.
Much of the debate on the future of the Republican Party, however, continues to focus on Trump, who has yet to announce his intention to run in 2024 but has recently strongly hinted at the prospect in large, election-style rallies.
Supreme Court pick
Beneath the surface, meanwhile, there are still more divisions the party will be debating in upcoming days and months over what the party’s platform will be. During the last presidential cycle, the Republican National Committee abandoned even writing a platform, adopting the previous cycle’s document instead.
One issue is likely to be upcoming confirmation hearings for President Biden’s Supreme Court pick Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, scheduled for March 21 to 24.
The dates are on pace to make Jackson’s second-fastest confirmation on record, following Justice Amy Coney Barrett. There was 30 days between the announcement of Barrett’s nomination and her confirmation.
In a letter written to colleagues, Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wrote of his desire for “respectful and dignified hearings.” With the strong division of the deeply divided Senate, Jackson will face opposition as she prepares for the hearings.
Among GOP members, one of the most influential members of the committee is a former law school classmate, Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz is on record saying that Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman to the court is “offensive” and a “discriminatory quota.”
Cruz voted ‘no’ on Jackson’s previous confirmation. Democrats can confirm Jackson without a single Republican vote in Jackson’s current confirmation hearing, with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
Masking debate continues
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently held an event planned to tout a multi-million-dollar investment in cybersecurity education. However, the announcement was overshadowed by DeSantis’ actions toward a group of masked students standing near his podium.
“You do not have to wear those masks. Please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything. And we’ve got to stop with this COVID theater. If you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous,” DeSantis told the students before shaking his head and turning away.
DeSantis has firmly rejected the implementation of mask mandates, which signals his unmoving stance in the culture war over pandemic restrictions. DeSantis recently signed an executive order that threatened to withhold funding from schools that implemented mask mandates.
Last month, DeSantis voiced his support for parents to be permitted to sue school districts over mandatory mask mandates.