According to a report from the Washington Post, California Republican Kevin McCarthy's persistence to become House speaker may have paid off after he squeaked out a win after 15 ballots, but there are still bruised feelings and a rift has grown among members of the Freedom Caucus over his ascension.
As the Post's Paul Kane writes, two of the founders of the conservative caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows are on opposite sides of the McCarthy divide and there is a low-key war still brewing among two factions in the group.
According to the report, "Meadows, who served seven years in the House and left in 2020 to become White House chief of staff to President Donald Trump, has asserted that he played no role in the uprising against McCarthy," however "But newer members of the Freedom Caucus acknowledged that Meadows served as spiritual adviser during their recent clashes with McCarthy, through the lens of his own battles last decade with Boehner."
The report notes that the normally voluble Jordan worked behind the scenes to get McCarthy elected and passed on a chance to challenge him -- reportedly preferring to head up the House Judiciary Committee.
As Kane explained, "The McCarthy episode exposed not just a fault in the broader GOP conference of 222 Republicans, but also a deepening rift within today’s version of the Freedom Caucus," adding "They remain deeply conservative but they don’t quite hold the burn-everything-down ethos of the caucus’s earliest days, as they now stand to actually hold power once the House gets up and running."
"Seven years ago, with Meadows and Jordan united against him, McCarthy’s speaker bid got rejected. With Jordan in his camp this time, and Meadows several blocks away, McCarthy finally eked out the win to claim the speaker’s gavel," the report states before adding, "...the next few months could be awkward for such close friends if the guests at Meadows’ townhouse keep trying to plot to undermine the new speaker and his wingman, Jordan."
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