Even that division goes deeper than Trump, with the Republican National Senate Committee largely supporting the incumbents while the Congressional Republican National Committee not getting involved in the primary races. But Trump amplified this disagreement over whether to defend the besieged incumbents by swearing revenge on Republicans who crossed paths with him.
Hugging Trump has become the number one priority for most House Republicans, with celebrating the former president in Mar-a-Lago becoming a rite of passage among their leaders. GOP senators, on the other hand, are trying to chart a different course – based on politics rather than Trump’s personality – by believing their party’s brand will be more effective than sticking to one man. Don’t expect Mitch McConnell to show up in Florida anytime soon.
“It is important that we are not a party based on personality,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.), who urged his party to abandon Trump, at least in the short term. “Sustainability as a political party is based on a set of ideas.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) Retorted, reflecting on a Senate election in Alabama and leading the challenges to the Jan. 6 election: “Our more liberal establishment brothers in the Senate are not doing very well. good. They are the only ones who lost in 2020. “
The emerging schism is more important than the increasingly divergent approaches of House and Senate Republicans to the former president since his loss to Biden and his second arraignment. House and Senate Republicans diverge upside down positions President Joe Biden and some of his priorities, even as they unite against his coronavirus bill.
Even before Biden’s inauguration, the GOP House-Senate split was beginning to unfold. More than 100 House Republicans signed an amicus brief in favor of overturning the November election results as Trump pushed a baseless narrative of voter fraud, and a similar number challenged the certification of the election. In the Senate, no one supported the brief, and only eight GOP senators contested Biden’s election to Congress.
Veterans of both Houses attribute this to the disparate effects of the House’s two-year terms in gerrymandered districts and statewide Senate electorates and six-year staggered terms. These factors are exacerbated by the hyper-loyalty demanded by Trump and his staunch supporters, as well as the fact that the Senate GOP must win Senate races in swing states like Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania next year.
“What it takes to win a general election in many Senate seats is just different. It is a more diverse electorate. Ours tend to be more cohesive, ”said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Former NRCC Chief.
“The Chamber is more sensitive to the immediate situation. And the Senate sort of has a longer-term view, ”said Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), former chairman of the NRSC.
Republicans have found at least one area in which they can come together in the post-Trump era: countering the more liberal elements of the Biden agenda. But they got there from different places, as Senate Republicans actually sat down with Biden to see if they could work together just a few weeks ago.
In addition to the Covid relief package, the GOP should remain primarily united in its opposition to democratic legislation on LGBTQ rights, election laws and police reform.
But beneath the surface of that unity lurks more contention, including some of Biden’s supported goals. Senate Republicans are ready to strike a deal on raising the minimum wage and are more inclined to hitting targets, in addition to some presidential candidates, than House Republicans would like. House Republicans plan to take a tough stance against postings and have little interest in raising the minimum wage, one of the hottest debates in Washington right now.
“You will still have a handful of Republicans voting to raise the minimum wage, but it’s only a handful,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (RN.C.) said, noting that more GOP members in the House tend to live in districts where the cost of living is cheaper. “Generally speaking, Republicans believe we shouldn’t be getting into this area at the federal level.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the minimum wage increase “was worth discussing.” He also sharply dismissed Trump’s suggestion that the former president propelled McConnell to re-election in 2020: “I want to thank him for the 15-point margin I had in 2014 as well.”
And regarding its incumbent who voted against Trump in the impeachment trial, McConnell said in a recent interview that “Absolutely, we are all behind Senator Murkowski.”
McConnell’s counterpart in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, declined to answer repeated questions about whether he thinks the GOP should stand up for incumbents like Gonzalez who voted to impeach Trump.
Gonzalez, however, seemed unfazed by the likely lack of help from his party: “I’m going to run my race,” he said. “I don’t care what other people are doing.”
McCarthy also wouldn’t say if he would help the re-election campaign of his deputy, GOP conference chairperson Liz Cheney, whose vote to remove Trump from office helped sketch out a main challenge: “Liz doesn’t m ‘did not ask’ to intervene, he mentioned.
While McCarthy holds up, McConnell has gone out of his way to defend Cheney – even though she is a member of the House and there is no Senate race in Wyoming this cycle.
The House GOP campaign arm has historically not been involved in primary races, even on behalf of dues-paying incumbents. The idea is that it could create bad blood if they pick the wrong candidate. (In recent years, however, some grassroots Republicans have grown more comfortable playing in the primaries, while leaders and other members have stepped in in open races to help elect more women and minorities.)
NRSC Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) Said he only learned this week that House Republicans do not have the same incumbent protection policy. He said that since the NRSC asked Republicans to all participate, “we should help the people who are our colleagues.”
As he walked to a Republican lunch on Tuesday, Senator Kevin Cramer (RN.D.) reflected on the cultural differences between Senators and members of the House. Today in the Senate, he eats lunch with his 49 colleagues three times a week. As a three-term House member, Cramer recalled being stuck in a room with 200 of his colleagues, eating breakfast on his lap and waiting for his turn to speak for a minute.
He said the distinctions between these party meetings explain a lot about the rift between the two GOP conferences.
“It’s just not conducive to solving big problems,” he said of rowdy House conference meetings. “So you’re more motivated by populism, quite frankly.”