No solution on horizon to GOP divide in House of Representatives


U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) confronts Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) after the 14th of the 15 votes it took to confirm McCarthy as Speaker of the House. (C-Span Video)

WASHINGTON – Despite the Republicans holding the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the divisions in the GOP caucus has led to complete gridlock with members sent home after a two-day standoff.

On the evening of Wednesday June 7, GOP leaders canceled the remaining votes for the week and members were sent home after a two-day standoff.

Among the bills that this protest struck down on Tuesday was a bill that would have restricted the federal government’s ability to regulate gas stoves. With the Republicans holding a slim 222-212 majority, it doesn’t take many representatives to block votes. In this case, it took 11 far-right Republicans siding with Democrats.

The contention in the GOP can be blamed on how some hard-right Republicans in Congress feel about Kevin McCarthy (R-California). According to Oklahoma Congressman Kevin Hern (R-Tulsa), these Republicans think that McCarthy hasn’t been keeping his promises.

“They believe that the promises (McCarthy) made in order to get the speakership vote, he’s broken those promises,” said Hern. “They’re sifting through that and obviously couldn’t agree after the Tuesday rule vote, and Wednesday they couldn’t get it done all day and so here we are now.”

McCarthy has not been an especially popular person in the Capitol in 2023. When the Republicans took back control of the house in January, it took 15 votes to confirm him as the Speaker of the 118th Congress after several concessions made on his part to the far-right members of the House. Many of the Representatives who opposed McCarthy back in January are the same ones opposing him now.

It all began on Tuesday when 11 hard-right Republicans voted “no” with House Democrats to strike down a GOP rule vote. Freedom Caucus member Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) was among them.

“The Speaker’s agreement was breached with the debt ceiling deal, and it has been downhill since then,” said Boebert via Twitter, who missed the debt limit vote because she was late getting to the Capitol.

“I fought hard in January to end the Pelosi-era leadership politics. Enough is enough. I’m not waiting for the next trillion dollar mistake,” she said referring to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.)

Matt Gaetz (R-Florida ), another Freedom Caucus member, also took to Twitter to explain his actions, while also criticizing McCarthy’s relationship with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“Our message to Speaker McCarthy is simple,” said Gaetz. “He has to be in a monogamous relationship with one coalition or the other. He can’t parade around with House conservatives on his arm for five months, and then jump in the backseat with Hakeem Jeffries when he wants to do a $4 trillion debt limit deal.”

Boebert and Gaetz have vocally led a very loud contingent of Republicans against McCarthy  on social media and on the floor since he was confirmed as Speaker of the House but especially since the debt ceiling bill passed.

The dustup is reminiscent of the battles that were waged with former Republican Speaker John Boehner in the early 2010’s by those who then-called themselves the Tea Party.  Boehner resigned in 2015 rather than continue the intractable wars.

Hern isn’t sure just how bad this divide in 2023 is.

“That is hard to be determined,” said Hern. “Some people agree that if you make a promise, you should keep it. Like all the rest of us who were not involved in that original conversation back in January, we don’t know what promises were made. If those promises were broken, then I think other people can understand why these 20 or so are upset, but we don’t know what those promises are,” he said, saying he was uncertain how long this standstill will last.

“I think that’s to be determined. I know right now they worked yesterday (Wednesday) trying to figure out the way forward. My guess is that if there is a distrust between this group and the Speaker, then they’re going to have to come to an agreement where it can be verified what those promises were,” he said.

Another member of the Oklahoma delegation and a newish Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Coalgate), seemed hopeful that the divide could be fixed.  Brecheen was just elected in November.

“There’s a chance to heal (the divide),” he said. “People have disputes and if you operate in gentleness, you can always find a solution for people to keep their hearts right… As long as people use the wisdom God gave us, you can solve any problem.”

Brecheen also explained both his and the Freedom Caucus’ vision.

“We know that Washington really is the swamp that Donald Trump talked about. People get blinded when they get here because ambition makes them want to start climbing the political ladder. My conviction is that we need to be more concerned about winning for the nation and not winning elections.”

Both will be waiting to see what happens next.


Gaylord Nws is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.  For more stories by Gaylord News go to