Kevin McCarthy’s Dilemma

In March, we published an edition of Uphill questioning House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s ability (and willingness) to keep his conference in line. It’s a story we could have updated and published nearly every week since then.

A cycle of distractions and inflammatory rhetoric from members on the far right keeps playing out. Reps. Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert, in particular, have continued to embarrass themselves and their colleagues, and McCarthy has continued to steer clear of criticizing them. The dynamic isn’t likely to play a huge role in the 2022 midterms, which Republicans are favored to win, but it has implications for McCarthy’s support among moderate members who would like to see leaders play a larger role in outlining standards of acceptable behavior in the conference. 

The latest conflagration: Boebert, a Colorado Republican, has repeatedly made a joke at fundraisers this year suggesting Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is one of only three Muslims in Congress, is a terrorist. 

Beyond the blatant bigotry underpinning her comments, Boebert simply appears to have been lying about having an interaction in an elevator with Omar. Videos of her comments in September and another instance last month indicate she workshopped the joke, adding a concerned Capitol Police officer as a flourish in the more recent version. Omar, for her part, says the interaction did not happen.

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