GOP, McCarthy on collision course over expunging Trump’s impeachments

House Republicans increasingly find themselves on a collision course over efforts to expunge the impeachments of former President Trump, a battle that pits hard-line conservatives — who are pressing for a vote — against moderates already warning GOP leaders they'll reject it.

The promised opposition from centrist Republicans all but ensures the resolutions would fail if they hit the floor. And it puts Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a no-win situation.

If he doesn't stage the vote, he risks the ire of Trump and his allies. If he does, the measures would be shot down, validating Trump's impeachments just as his legal troubles are piling up. 

The issue is just the latest in a long string of debates challenging McCarthy’s ability to keep his conference united while Trump — the GOP’s presidential front-runner who’s also facing two criminal indictments — hovers in the background. 

The expungement concept is hardly new. A group of House Republicans — including Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) — introduced legislation last month designed to erase Trump’s impeachments from the historical record. 

But the debate reached new heights last week when Politico reported that McCarthy — after suggesting publicly that Trump is not the strongest contender for the GOP presidential nomination — raced to make amends, in part by promising to vote on expungement before the end of September.

McCarthy has denied he ever made such a promise. But the denial only magnified the issue in the public eye — and amplified the conservative calls for the Speaker to bring the measure for a vote. 

“It should definitely come to the floor and be expunged,” said Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), a member of the Freedom Caucus and vocal Trump ally.

“I’m hoping to see it get done before August recess,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a lead sponsor of one of the resolutions, told reporters, later adding that “these are impeachments that should’ve never happened, and so we would like to expunge them.”

The expungement push is anathema to many moderate Republicans, particularly those facing tough reelections in competitive districts, who are treading carefully not to link themselves too closely with Trump.

Some of those lawmakers are already vowing to vote against the measure if it hits the floor — all but guaranteeing its failure given the Republicans’ narrow House majority — and some of them are proactively reaching out to GOP leaders to warn them against staging such a vote. 

“I have every expectation I'll vote against expungement, and I have every expectation that I will work to bring others with me,” said one moderate Republican who requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, noting “I think my views represent a fair number of principled conservatives.”

“We can't change history. I mean, that impeachment vote happened. And I just don't think we should be engaged in the kind of cancel culture that tries to whitewash history.”

The lawmaker added: “I’ve communicated that with leadership.”

A majority-Democrat House impeached Trump twice during his four-year reign in the White House.

The first instance, in late 2019, stemmed from Trump’s threat to withhold U.S. military aid to Ukraine unless that country’s leaders launched a corruption investigation into Trump’s chief political rival, Joe Biden. The second, in early 2021, targeted Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which was conducted by Trump supporters trying to overturn his election defeat.

The votes made Trump just the third U.S. president to be impeached and the first to have it happen twice. His Republican allies have long accused Democrats of abusing their authority for the sole purpose of damaging a political foe.

Expunging an impeachment has never been attempted. And opponents of the move in both parties are quick to point out that it has no practical significance because the impeachments happened and can’t be reversed.

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“There's no procedure for expunging an impeachment,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a former constitutional law professor who led Trump’s second impeachment. “It's completely meaningless.” 

Others pointed out that Trump has already been exonerated by the Senate, which failed to convict him after both impeachments, making any new process pointless. 

“They’re silly,” centrist Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said in a text message. “When do we expunge a not guilty verdict?”

The pushback hasn’t discouraged Trump’s allies from pressing ahead for expungement, if only as a symbolic show of solidarity with the embattled former president.

McCarthy, who relied on Trump’s backing to win the Speaker’s gavel this year, threw his support behind expungement in late June, telling reporters the first punishment “was not based on true facts,” and the second was “on the basis of no due process.”

“I think it is appropriate, just as I thought before, that you should expunge it because it never should have gone through,” he said.

After fading from prominence for about a month, the conversation over expungement cropped back up following Politico's report, which came days after the former president said he received a “target letter” from the Justice Department informing him he is the subject of their investigation into his efforts to remain in power following the 2020 election — which includes the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The receipt of a target letter is often a sign that charges will soon be filed, which would mark Trump’s third indictment in recent months — and his second on the federal level. That prospect has only amped up Trump’s fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill and could fuel efforts to expunge the two rebukes he received while in office.

“Every time you pile something on Trump, his numbers go up,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.). “I'm surprised the Democrats aren't just wanting to ignore him.” 

The discourse over expungement, however, is dividing House Republicans at a precarious moment for McCarthy as Congress stares down a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown.

The appropriations process is already causing controversy within the House GOP conference, as hard-line conservatives — many of them close Trump allies — push leadership to enact aggressive cuts, which includes setting spending at levels lower than the agreement McCarthy struck with President Biden in May.

Trump has thus far stayed out of that debate, as he’d done earlier in the year during the debt-ceiling battle. But he remains a wildcard in the weeks leading up to the shutdown deadline, especially if his legal problems worsen and the pressure on his congressional allies to provide some form of exoneration — even if symbolic — grows more pronounced. 

Democrats, meanwhile, are not sympathetic. 

“The Republicans face a serious political problem,” Raskin said, “because they have wrapped their party around the fortunes and the ambitions of Donald Trump.”

Emily Brooks contributed.

McCarthy defends Trump: ‘I don’t see how he could be found criminally responsible’

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is defending former President Trump for his actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, saying Trump had encouraged a peaceful protest that day — but did nothing to merit the criminal charges the Justice Department (DOJ) is said to be weighing. 

“I don’t see how he could be found criminally responsible,” McCarthy told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol. “What criminal activity did he do? He told people to be peaceful.”

The Speaker’s comments came a day after Trump revealed he is a target of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the Capitol rampage, which was conducted by supporters of the former president who were attempting to overturn his 2020 election defeat. The so-called target letter is typically an indication that a formal indictment is forthcoming. 

McCarthy’s defense of Trump marks a contrast to remarks he made shortly after the Capitol attack, when he took to the House floor to declare that Trump “bears responsibility” for the actions of the “mob rioters.” 

McCarthy said he spoke to Trump Tuesday after the former president placed a call to him, and that the conversation “wasn’t anything different than the time before.” He noted that they “talk on a regular basis” but also suggested Trump was frustrated with the arrival of the target letter. 

“Wouldn’t you feel frustrated?” McCarthy said.

McCarthy disputed reports that the call was a “strategy session” designed to unite Republicans behind a response to potential indictments, instead accusing the Biden administration of conducting such sessions for the purpose of targeting the president’s political adversaries.

“I think the strategy sessions happen in the Democrats’ Department of Justice, where they go after anybody who’s running against the president,” McCarthy said. “It seems as though — and if you go up in the polls you’re more likely to get indicted.”

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), one of Trump’s fiercest supporters on Capitol Hill, also said she spoke to the former president Tuesday following news of the target letter, before tearing into the development as “yet another example of the illegal weaponization of the Department of Justice to go after Joe Biden’s top political opponent.”

The comments came on the same day that House Republicans staged a high-profile hearing with a pair of IRS whistleblowers who accused DOJ prosecutors of slow-walking an investigation into Hunter Biden. Both McCarthy and Stefanik said the real criminal conspiracy lies there, not with anything Trump did surrounding Jan. 6.  

“I would move to an impeachment inquiry if I found that the attorney general has not only lied to the Congress and the Senate, but to America,” McCarthy said, referring to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

McCarthy’s full-throated defense sets up a stark contrast with his GOP counterpart in the Senate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who declined to comment on the Trump news when asked about it at a press conference Wednesday, citing the former president’s reelection campaign.

“I’ve said every week out here that I’m not going to comment on the various candidates for the presidency,” McConnell told reporters. “How I felt about that I expressed at the time, but I’m not going to start getting into sort of critiquing the various candidates for president.”

After the Senate concluded its impeachment trial into Trump following the Jan. 6 riot, McConnell tore into the former president in remarks on the floor, declaring, “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.”

“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” he added.

Since then, McConnell has remained relatively silent when it comes to matters involving Trump, picking and choosing when to weigh in on politically charged matters linked to the former president.

McCarthy’s latest challenge: Prevent shutdown while avoiding GOP revolt

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is fresh from a successful effort to raise the debt ceiling but now faces what might be an even tougher challenge: preventing a government shutdown without sparking an all-out revolt within his own Republican conference. 

House GOP leaders return to Washington next week after a long Independence Day recess with one major item on the summer docket: moving 12 appropriations bills to the Senate and putting pressure on upper-chamber Democrats to swallow some Republican priorities. 

Yet the GOP conference is sharply divided in its approach to 2024 spending, pitting centrists and leadership allies — who concede the need for a bipartisan compromise on government funding — against conservative hard-liners demanding deep cuts, back to 2022 levels, in defiance of the deal McCarthy cut with President Biden earlier in the month.

The dynamics set the stage for a punishing July for McCarthy and GOP leaders, who are racing to win over the conservative holdouts and move the spending bills with just a razor-thin majority that allows scant room for defections. 

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Complicating their effort, the conservative hard-liners — who felt burned by McCarthy’s handling of the debt ceiling package — say they’ve taken a lesson from that fight and are now vowing to use their considerable leverage, as well as hardball tactics, to force the Speaker to hold a tougher line in the spending debate. If the government shuts down in the process, they say that’s a price they’re willing to pay.

The factors have combined to highlight the tenuous grip McCarthy has on his conference, heighten the threat to his Speakership and increase the odds of a government shutdown later in the year.

To say McCarthy’s task is difficult, said Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), is “the understatement of possibly the decade.”

"But difficult is not impossible,” he quickly added. “We're more united than perhaps the mainstream media would give us credit for.” 

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Central to the fight is a promise McCarthy made to his conservative detractors in January, as a condition of winning their support for his Speakership, to fight to cut next year’s spending back to last year’s levels. McCarthy, backed by top GOP appropriators, says they’re ready to make good on that vow. But the conservatives are skeptical, accusing the Speaker of using budget gimmicks, known as rescissions, to disguise higher levels of spending — a strategy the conservatives say they’ll oppose

McCarthy huddled with members of the far-right Freedom Caucus just before the recess in an effort to persuade the hard-liners that he shares their deficit-cutting goals. But no agreements were made, and conservatives left the meeting unconvinced of McCarthy’s commitment to the steep cuts they’re demanding — clear evidence that GOP leaders still lack the votes to pass their bills. 

“People are still searching for how we resolve that, and how we form unity around a single idea with respect to how the appropriations are getting resolved,” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), a frequent McCarthy critic. 

“We had an agreement on fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending levels,” he added. “I’m not persuaded by the notion that starting there and then buying those up with rescissions amounts to the performance of that objective.”

Still, McCarthy and his allies remain optimistic that they can move the 12 spending bills, not only through committee but also on the floor, in time to avoid a short-term spending patch in September, known as a continuing resolution, or CR. 

“[We’re] making sure that we stay on schedule to get the bills done, don't put ourselves into a situation where we take too much time and are unable to do a negotiation,” Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a close McCarthy ally, told reporters just before the break. “That doesn't play into our hands very well and it ends up pushing you into [a] CR path, where I don't think we really want to be.”

While the House is marking up spending bills below the levels agreed to in the debt limit bill — an attempt to appease conservatives — the Senate kicked off the appropriations process using the numbers from the original agreement, putting the two chambers on a collision course and further raising the chances of a government shutdown.

At least one moderate House Republican, however, predicts that the Senate will prevail in the chamber vs. chamber battle, which would deal a blow to conservatives and likely spark a right-wing headache for McCarthy.

“When it’s all said and done, you're gonna end up with the debt ceiling agreement,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told The Hill late last month. “Because the Senate’s not gonna go more conservative, and we’re not gonna let them spend more.”

Upping the pressure another notch, the debt limit deal struck by Biden and McCarthy included a provision that incentivizes Congress to pass all 12 appropriations bills by threatening to cut government spending by 1 percent across the board if the measures are not approved by Jan. 1, 2024.

So far, the House Appropriations Committee has cleared half of the partisan bills, with hopes of approving the remaining six bills in the coming weeks.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who serves on the appropriations panel, told The Hill before the recess that the “best outcome” would be if the GOP-led House is able to get all 12 bills across the floor. But he also said “leadership needs to see, can they produce these bills.”

“Can they get them across the floor?” he said. “If they do — and again, that will have to be without Democratic support, just like it was for the debt ceiling — they were in a position to sit down and have a genuine negotiation.”

A failure of House Republicans to pass their partisan appropriations bills as a starting point in the coming negotiations with the Senate would diminish the GOP’s leverage in that battle. 

Republican leaders have credited House passage of their previous partisan plan to raise the debt ceiling, along with proposals to slash trillions of dollars in government spending, as key in getting Democrats to swallow some of those cuts. 

The final bipartisan plan was much more modest than the proposal initially passed by Republicans in late April. However, GOP leaders say party unity was critical in strengthening McCarthy’s hand at the negotiating table with Biden.

To achieve the same unity in the spending debate, however, the Speaker must toe a difficult line in the weeks ahead as he works to secure more pull in the future talks with Democrats. Leaving town late last month, GOP leaders said the internal discussions would continue through the break. And lawmakers of all stripes said there is one goal in mind: "We're gonna do whatever we can to make sure that we cut as much as we can and maintain 218 [votes]," said Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.). 

That’s a tall order, given the current divisions and the closing window before government funding expires Oct. 1. But even many conservatives predict they will ultimately prevail. 

“The devil's in the details, of course,” Higgins said. “[But] we are united in purpose, and I envision us getting to 218.”

McCarthy feels the heat as frustrated conservatives grow more aggressive

Six months into the new Congress, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is increasingly bending to the demands of the conservative fringe of his GOP conference, a dynamic highlighted this week by his surprise threat to impeach U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The Speaker has, to an extent, been successful in disarming his conservative detractors through the first half of the year, winning their support in January’s race for the gavel and sidelining them more recently in adopting must-pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling.

But frustrated conservatives are getting more aggressive, threatening to tank federal funding bills and risk a government shutdown while pushing harder to force the impeachment votes GOP leaders have sought to avoid. 

The dynamics reflect the bald political reality of governing with a tiny and restive House majority, one in which the conservative distrust of the Speaker runs deep and GOP leaders have little room for defections when their legislative priorities come to the floor. 

The result has been that McCarthy is compelled, more and more, to act on the demands of the small but pugnacious group of conservative firebrands who have threatened his Speakership from the first days of January and are vowing to exert their leverage to obtain their legislative objectives.

“I am maybe not on his Christmas card list,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), former head of the far-right Freedom Caucus, of his antagonistic relationship with the Speaker.

McCarthy has gradually responded to the conservative demands simply by conceding to them. 

In recent weeks, the Speaker has catered to his right flank by targeting next year’s spending at levels below those outlined in the bipartisan debt limit deal. He’s endorsed a resolution to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) after an initial vote splintered the GOP. He’s swallowed a vote to impeach President Biden — even if only to punt the issue to committee.

He’s championed resolutions to expunge the two impeachments of former President Trump. And most recently, he’s adopted a harder line on the ouster of cabinet officials, like Garland.

“If the allegations from the IRS whistleblowers are proven true through House Republican investigations, we will begin an impeachment inquiry on Biden's Attorney General, Merrick Garland,” McCarthy tweeted Tuesday

That position is a major shift for the Speaker, who has been cold to the idea of rushing into impeachments this year, warning against politicizing the process and arguing for the conclusion of congressional investigations before launching any impeachment proceedings. But impatient conservatives have other ideas. 

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) last week forced the vote on Biden’s impeachment and is threatening to bring it to the floor again if the committees of jurisdiction don’t act quickly enough for her liking. 

“I would hope that it would be this year — and very soon,” Boebert said as Congress left Washington last week for a long July Fourth recess.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has introduced impeachment articles targeting at least four administration officials, including Biden and Garland, and is warning she’ll use special procedures to fast-track those bills to the floor. 

And Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said this week Garland might be just the start.

“It’s hard to keep up with it all,” Roy told WMAL radio on Monday

“We gotta look into [Alejandro] Mayorkas,” he continued, referring to the Homeland Security secretary. “We gotta look into Biden himself. We gotta look into Hunter Biden. … The American people deserve an administration that is not above the law and lawless.”

Even more pressing than impeachment has been the internal GOP battle over deficit spending. McCarthy, as one of the many concessions to his conservative critics in January, vowed a push to cut next year’s spending back to last year’s levels — a reduction of roughly $120 billion below the spending caps agreed upon in the debt ceiling deal.

McCarthy, backed by Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas), is vowing to make good on that promise, targeting 2024 spending at 2022 levels. But the conservatives are skeptical, accusing the Speaker of using budget “gimmicks,” known as rescissions, to claim savings that won’t materialize. 

“One place I’m pretty firmly planted is, we had an agreement on fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending levels as a fundamental component of the Speaker’s contest and the agreement that resolved that. I believe that needs to be honored,” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.). 

“I don’t know how, precisely, we’ll get it resolved.” 

Opposition from only a handful of conservatives would be enough to block the Republicans’ appropriations bills, raising the likelihood McCarthy will have to slash 2024 spending even further — at least in the initial round of House bills — and heightening the odds of a government shutdown later in the year, when Senate Democrats inevitably will oppose those cuts. 

In the eyes of Democrats, McCarthy has become captive to a small conservative fringe for the sake of retaining his grip on power. 

“The Speaker is catering to an extreme element in his caucus, and I don’t even think the majority of his caucus agrees with that position,” Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), head of the New Democrat Coalition, told reporters last week. 

Democrats are not the only critics. The conservatives’ threat to oppose their party’s spending bills is also frustrating more moderate Republicans and leadership allies, who say the hard-liners are ignoring the political reality of a divided government. 

“When it’s all said and done, you're gonna end up with the debt ceiling agreement,” said centrist Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). “Because the Senate’s not gonna go more conservative, and we’re not gonna let them spend more.”

Complicating McCarthy’s balancing act has been the candidacy of Trump, who remains the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination despite a long trail of legal and ethical troubles, including recent indictments over his handling of classified documents. 

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday morning, McCarthy, who has not endorsed a 2024 candidate, raised the question of whether Trump is the strongest Republican contender to challenge Biden next year. The remarks reportedly sparked an outcry, forcing McCarthy to shift gears and hail the former president’s recent poll ratings. 

“Just look at the numbers this morning,” McCarthy told Breitbart News several hours later. “Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016.”

Mychael Schnell contributed.

Republicans punt on Boebert’s effort to impeach Biden

House Republicans on Thursday neutered an effort to impeach President Biden, punting the resolution to a pair of committees and avoiding — for now — a politically perilous vote that threatened to split the GOP and undermine the party’s various investigations into the White House. 

The 219-208 party-line vote ends a two-day clash between GOP leaders and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), a conservative firebrand who stunned Washington on Tuesday by introducing a procedural measure to force a floor vote on her impeachment articles despite the objection of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). 

The articles, which accuse Biden of overseeing “a complete and total invasion at the southern border,” triggered an outcry from some of Boebert’s GOP colleagues, who were caught by surprise and quickly condemned any impeachment vote as premature. 

The sides ultimately reached an agreement late Wednesday to sidestep an impeachment vote by sending her articles to both the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, which have jurisdiction over impeachment and immigration policy, respectively. 

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The deal avoids — at least temporarily — what might have been an embarrassing internal fight on the House floor.

But Boebert is already warning that if the two committees don’t move on impeachment quickly enough to satisfy her sense of urgency, she intends to reintroduce the “privileged” resolution to force the issue to the House floor once again. 

“That is my commitment, that if nothing happens in committee like I’m promised that it will, yes, I will bring a privileged resolution every day for the rest of my time here in Congress,” Boebert told reporters Wednesday night.

Asked how much time she is willing to give the committee process before moving to force another vote, Boebert said, “The chairman is working on those details,” adding that he's planned "a few months of work" and that "there’s a little bit of grace there."

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.)

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) speaks to reporters following vote series at the Capitol on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

"But, I mean, that’s tentative,” she qualified.

The push to impeach Biden is nothing new for House Republicans. In the last Congress, when Democrats still controlled the chamber, GOP lawmakers introduced no fewer than 10 impeachment resolutions against the president, targeting his policies on issues as diverse as immigration, the response to the COVID pandemic and the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The new Congress, under GOP control, has already featured the introduction of four similar resolutions. 

Yet Boebert’s strategy this week stood out as an enormous escalation in the effort to oust Biden — one that threatened to turn a behind-the-scenes messaging strategy into a front-and-center floor vote that would have put many Republicans in an uncomfortable spot.

Vulnerable moderate lawmakers have hoped to avoid going on the record on impeachment, for fear of blowback in their purple districts. And GOP leaders have sought to finalize their investigations into Biden at the committee level before charging ahead with anything as aggressive as impeachment. 

“This is one of the most serious things you can do as a member of Congress. I think you’ve got to go through the process. You’ve got to have the investigation,” McCarthy said. “Throwing something on the floor actually harms the investigation that we’re doing right now.”

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Adding to the Republicans’ reluctance is the simple fact that any impeachment resolution would almost certainly fail on the House floor, creating an embarrassing political situation for GOP leaders who have accused Biden of being unfit for office.

Their move to defuse the impeachment push came the same week that another Republican — Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) — used the same procedural gambit as Boebert to force a vote on censuring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a highly unusual disciplinary action approved by GOP lawmakers Wednesday.

The successful vote, however, came only after a band of Republicans joined Democrats in defeating the effort last week, which brought threats of retaliation from former President Trump and forced Luna to revise the resolution and force another vote.

Both votes have highlighted the difficulties facing McCarthy and other GOP leaders as they fight to manage a restive conference with a razor-thin majority. McCarthy struggled to obtain the Speakership in January in the face of opposition from 20 GOP detractors — including Boebert — who continue to question his conservative bona fides.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during the stamp unveiling ceremony in honor of Rep. John Lewis on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during the stamp unveiling ceremony in honor of Rep. John Lewis on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Eleven of those conservatives shut down all activity on the House floor earlier this month to protest McCarthy’s handling of the debt ceiling negotiations with Biden. And they’re threatening to do it again if the Speaker doesn’t get behind deeper spending cuts in the upcoming fight over government funding, which expires Oct. 1. 

Democrats sought to highlight that internal discord Thursday, arguing that the vote on Biden’s impeachment resolution was a product of McCarthy’s weak leadership.

“We all know the truth: The real emergency here was that the Georgia wing and the Colorado wing of the MAGA caucus got into a fight right over there on the House floor about who gets to impeach the president first,” Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.), the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, said during debate.

He was referring to a spat between Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) one day earlier about the impeachment articles.

“The truth is that Speaker McCarthy has lost control of this House, and it is being run by the MAGA fringe. This is nuts,” he continued. “Kids get shot in their classrooms, nothing. Environmental disasters destroy entire communities, nothing. Our air is clogged with smoke because half the Northern Hemisphere is on fire due to climate change, nothing. But when the MAGA wing nuts say, 'Jump,' Speaker McCarthy says, 'How high?'”

Democrats also argued that Republicans were attempting to distract from the legal troubles surrounding former President Trump, following his federal indictment earlier this month and state charges in March.

“This resolution is simply the latest attempt by extreme MAGA republicans to distract from the legal peril facing their twice-impeached, twice-indicted party leader,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chaired the Jan. 6 select committee. “This cynical resolution has nothing to do with border security. It does nothing to stop fentanyl deaths. And it has nothing to do with the constitutional law.”

Republicans, however, disagreed, asserting that their effort against Biden was squarely focused on his response to the situation at the southern border.

“Let’s be very clear: The issue that is happening at our southern border — not the name-calling or talking about former President Trump — what is happening at our southern border today and for the last two years under President Biden has been a dereliction of duty with respect to immigration law in the United States,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said on the House floor Thursday.

While Thursday’s vote punted the question of whether Biden should be impeached, some of the president’s fiercest critics are vowing that the referral to committees marks just the beginning of their latest effort against the president.

“Our job in the House of Representatives is, in fact, to deter the overreach and abuse of authority by the President of the United States refusing to carry out the laws of the United States in detriment to the well-being, security, and lives of the people of this country,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said on the House floor Thursday.

“That is our job in the House of Representatives. That is why we are here, that is why I support this rule and that is why I support this resolution. That is why I support this inquiry,” he continued. “And we are just beginning.”

Emily Brooks contributed.

Dems protest Schiff censure in dramatic display on House floor

The House floor spun into chaos Wednesday after Republicans voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — a rare rebuke that sparked a rowdy protest from scores of Democrats, who huddled around their embattled ally and heckled Republicans with accusations of political cowardice. 

The episode made for a wild ride on the floor, where Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), presiding over the censure vote from the dais, faced down an angry crowd of Democratic lawmakers who had flocked en masse to the well of the chamber and directed their ire directly at him.

Behind former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the crowd of Democrats launched their protest with chants of, ‘Shame! Shame! Shame!” At one point, Pelosi, like a conductor, signaled to her colleagues to continue the chants.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who was kicked off of a key committee at the start of the year, called the Republicans “spiteful cowards.” 

“Disgrace,” Rep. Mark Takano, another California Democrat, shouted.

One unidentified Democrat offered a warning: “What goes around comes around.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), in the front row and glaring straight at McCarthy, called the Speaker “pathetic” and “weak.”

Schiff walked through a sea of Democrats on his way to the well of the chamber, where he was formally censured. Omar followed him down the aisle during the trek, while Democrats clapped and patted Schiff on the back.

“Adam, Adam,” they chanted. Schiff was seen saying, “Thank you,” to his colleagues.

The Democratic protestations triggered a smattering of frustrated responses from the otherwise amused Republicans across the aisle. At least one GOP lawmaker followed the Democrats’ “shame” chant with the words “on Schiff.” One urged the Democrats simply to “be quiet.” Another yelled out, “Jackass!” — toward no one in particular.

At one point, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) yelled out “$32 million dollars on your charade,” a reference to the cost of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election. The dollar figure was included in Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s (R-Fla.) initial resolution to censure Schiff but was nixed amid GOP concerns over the precedent and constitutionality of fining congress members.

And when McCarthy called for Schiff to report to the well of the chamber, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) shouted “woo” and started clapping.

All the while, McCarthy beat the gavel furiously and urged “order” in the chamber. It was a futile gesture. 

“Out of order!” the Democrats bellowed in response.

When McCarthy attempted to read the formal admonishment — a text beginning with the words, “The House has resolved” — Democrats retorted: “The House has not resolved.”  

After being interrupted a number of times by the Democratic chants, McCarthy warned the chamber, “I have all night.” When he finally got through the reading, Democrats once again started chanting “Adam, Adam.”

Throughout the bitter back-and-forth, Schiff stood stoically at the center of the storm.  Afterwards, he called it “a badge of honor.”

“It was gratifying to hear such nice words from all my colleagues, and [it] reinforced what a badge of honor it is to stand up to Trump and McCarthy and all the MAGA enablers of the former president,” Schiff said.

The entire scene was a stark departure from the other censure votes in modern history, when the offending lawmaker would march — unchaperoned — to the well of a hushed chamber to receive the formal admonishment. That was the case with former Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who was censured in 2010, and more recently with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who was censured in 2021. 

The outpouring of Democratic support in Schiff’s case reflects not only his standing within the Caucus, but also the nature of the charges against him. Schiff, as senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, had emerged as among the fiercest antagonists of former President Trump, accusing him of abusing his power and serving as the lead manager in Trump’s first impeachment in 2019. 

That national branding — radioactive on the right — led directly to the Republicans’ censure resolution, which accused Schiff of lying to the public about Trump’s ties to Russia. Most Democrats share Schiff’s sentiments about Trump, however, turning Wednesday’s would-be punishment into a celebration of Schiff’s willingness to stand up to the former president.

“It’s the Speaker’s House, not Trump’s,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) yelled out.

A number of Democrats also mentioned Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), the controversial first-term lawmaker who was indicted on 13 federal charges in May over accusations that he misled donors and misrepresented his finances to the public and government agencies. He pleaded not guilty.

“Where’s Santos,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) yelled.

Last month, the House voted to send a resolution to expel Santos to the Ethics Committee, punting on the question of whether or not the New York Republican should be ousted from Congress. The move, however, was largely redundant, since the Ethics panel is already looking into Santos. Republican leadership has said the Ethics probe should run its course before taking action against the congressman.

“Where do you stand on Santos, Mr. Speaker?” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) yelled out.

Others cited the late-Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.); earlier in the day, House leaders unveiled a U.S. Postal Service stamp depicting the late congressman, who was a renowned civil rights leader.

“On the day you honor John Lewis,” one Democrat yelled out. “Shame on you.”

Luna, for her part, appeared to be soaking it up. She was seated near the front of the chamber throughout the process. Afterward, she was hailed by Republicans with a series of fist bumps as she exited up the center aisle. And just before walking off the chamber floor, Luna turned to send a warning to the protesting Democrats: 

“I’m here for two years, guys,” she said. 

Rebecca Beitsch contributed. 

Republicans bash Boebert for forcing Biden impeachment vote: ‘Frivolous’

House Republicans teed off Wednesday on one of their own colleagues, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), over her stunning move to force a vote this week to impeach President Biden.

While no fans of the president, Boebert’s GOP critics said her move to stage an impeachment vote this week is wildly premature, harming the Republicans’ ongoing efforts to investigate the Biden family’s business dealings while undermining potential impeachment efforts in the future.

At a closed-door meeting of the GOP conference on Capitol Hill, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) took the remarkable step of urging his troops to oppose the impeachment resolution when it hits the floor later in the week, a House Republican told The Hill.

“I don't think it's the right thing to do,” McCarthy later told reporters.

“This is one of the most serious things you can do as a member of Congress. I think you've got to go through the process. You've got to have the investigation,” McCarthy said. “And throwing something on the floor actually harms the investigation that we're doing right now.”

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McCarthy told reporters that he called Boebert on Tuesday and asked her to talk to the closed-door House GOP conference meeting about her impeachment resolution before moving to force a vote. McCarthy said Boebert told him she would think about it, but then went ahead and made the privileged motion Tuesday anyway.

The Colorado Republican also did not attend Wednesday's meeting.

Boebert instead appeared on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s show Wednesday morning, defending her move to force a vote on impeachment despite leadership encouraging her not to.

“I would love for committees to do the work, but I haven’t seen the work be done on this particular subject,” Boebert said. She later said that there are not enough GOP votes to pass impeachment articles out of committee.

“This, I’m hoping, generates enthusiasm with the base to contact their members of Congress and say, ‘We want something done while you have the majority,’” Boebert said.

McCarthy told Republicans that he opposed the two impeachments of former President Trump because Democrats were acting on emotion, not facts, according to a source familiar with the Speaker’s remarks.

Boebert made the surprise privileged motion Tuesday evening to bring up her resolution to impeach Biden over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, forcing a floor vote on the measure some time this week. Democrats plan to make a motion to table the resolution, blocking a vote on impeachment itself. The table resolution is expected to succeed. 

On Bannon’s show, she urged Republicans to not vote to table her impeachment resolution.

“We have the majority. This does not have to be tabled,” Boebert said. “If we have Republicans stick together, we can have that debate about the sovereignty of our nation and how important it is to shut the southern border down and secure it.”

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Boebert’s impeachment push comes as Republicans have tried to turn their attention to other Biden-focused criticism this week. After the president’s son, Hunter Biden, agreed to a plea deal involving federal tax and gun charges Tuesday, Republicans dug in on their investigation into the business dealings of Biden’s family members.

It also follows Boebrt’s ideological ally, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), forcing a vote on censuring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) over his handling of investigations into Trump and the first Trump impeachment. The House will vote Tuesday on a modified version of the resolution after 20 House Republicans helped to tank the Schiff censure resolution last week.

McCarthy argued that the Schiff censure was a reason to not rush impeachment articles.

“We're going to censure Schiff for actually doing the exact same thing — lying to the American public and taking us through impeachment,” McCarthy said. “We're going to turn around the next day and do try to do the same thing that Schiff did? I just don't think that's honest.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.)

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) speaks during a press conference held by the House Freedom Caucus regarding the proposed Biden-McCarthy debt limit deal on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.

More privileged resolutions could be coming. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said that she will convert all her impeachment articles against Biden and top figures in his administration into privileged resolutions to use “when I feel it’s necessary.”

Republicans have spent years hammering Democrats for what they said were a pair of thinly argued impeachments of Trump, and many are now warning that Boebert’s impeachment effort — which sidesteps all committee action — follows in the same flawed mold.

“This shouldn't be playground games, in my view. This should be serious,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) groused Wednesday. “If there's real facts for impeachment then you go there. But doing this is wrong, and I think the majority of the conference feels that way.”

Bacon said there are “viable areas” of Biden’s background that merit investigation, but he suggested there’s no proof of wrongdoing — at least not yet — to warrant impeachment.

“Impeachment shouldn't be something that is frivolous,” he said. “We should get to the facts of that, but just doing a privileged motion is wrong,” he said. “It's a person thinking about themselves instead of the team.”  

Rep. Don Bacon is among the Republicans bashing Rep. Lauren Boebert over forcing a vote to impeach President Biden. (Greg Nash)

Others quickly piled on.  

“I think that things like impeachment are one of the most awesome powers of the Congress, it's not something you should flippantly exercise in two days. And I think that it actually undermines efforts to hold people accountable in the future,” Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a close McCarthy ally, told reporters.

He said the “right way” to go about the matter is through regular order, “empowering the committee chairs and members.”

“It's important for the Republican conference to act together in unison to counter the bad policies of the Biden administration,” Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) said. “And therefore, if members want to suggest or bring up the idea of a privileged motion, they ought to come to the conference to discuss that in advance and have a collective discussion of it before they take the decision to do it.”

Greene said some members of the conference were mad at Boebert because her privileged motion “came out of nowhere.” And some of the criticism was personal. Greene, who has had public dust-ups with Boebert in the past, accused Boebert of copying her own impeachment push.

“I had already introduced articles of impeachment on Joe Biden for the border, asked her to co-sponsor mine, she didn’t. She basically copied my articles and then introduced them and then changed them to a privileged resolution,” Greene said. “So of course I support ‘em because they’re identical to mine.”

“They’re basically a copycat,” she added.

Not all Republicans were criticizing Boebert on Wednesday. Some conservatives defended her strategy, even as it would circumvent the conventional committee process they had demanded of GOP leaders this year. 

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) — the chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus who was one of several Republicans who pushed for regular order during the drawn-out Speaker’s race in January — argued that lawmakers were not trying to circumvent the process by bringing up privileged resolutions.

“Regular order also includes individual members being able to represent their districts,” Perry said. “[It] might not be what I do, but if that’s what they see as necessary then that’s their prerogative.”

Updated at 12:59 p.m.

GOP unrest: Conservatives threaten to tank party’s 2024 spending bills

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is seeking to appease his conservative agitators by targeting next year’s federal spending at last year’s levels.

It’s not going well. 

A long list of conservatives left Washington this week accusing McCarthy and other GOP leaders of using budgetary “gimmicks” to create the false impression that they’re cutting 2024 outlays back to 2022 levels, rather than adopting the fundamental budget changes to realize those reductions and rein in deficit spending over the long haul.

The hard-liners are already threatening to oppose their own party’s spending bills when they hit the House floor later this year, undermining the Republicans’ leverage in the looming budget fight while heightening the chances of a government shutdown. 

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The internal clash would also be an enormous headache for the Speaker, who’s already under fire from conservatives for his handling of the debt ceiling debate and faces intense pressure to hold the line on spending in the coming battle over government funding.

“He's not doing ‘22 spending levels; he’s talking ‘22 spending levels,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), former head of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said Thursday. “Talk is cheap.”

Biggs and a number of other conservatives fear that GOP appropriators intend to use a budgetary tool known as a rescission in the drafting of their 2024 spending bills. Rescissions essentially claw back spending that Congress has already appropriated for future programs, allowing appropriators to claim they're funding the government at one level while actually spending at another. The hard-liners say that mechanism will lead to higher deficits than they're ready to support. 

“The idea of saying that we’re marking to 2022, but we're going to buy up to 2023 marks with rescissions, just — to me that's disingenuous,” Biggs said. 

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) speaks to reporters before a press conference held by the House Freedom Caucus regarding the proposed Biden-McCarthy debt limit deal on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), another Freedom Caucus member, agreed. 

“My understanding is they're going to use ‘23 numbers, and then through rescissions, get back to ‘22 numbers. So if they don't get the rescission, then they don’t get the ‘22 number,” Buck said. “The whole predicate is, ‘We're going to do this with rescissions,’ and then the rescissions don't happen, and then everyone says, ‘Well, that wasn't my fault.’”

Buck said he hasn’t voted for any appropriations bill “in a long time.” And without more drastic cuts and fundamental structural changes, he’ll likely oppose this year’s bills, too. 

“To go off the cliff at the ‘22 pace is not much different to me than going off the cliff at the ‘23 pace,” he said.

The opposition is significant because Democrats are already up in arms that McCarthy is targeting 2024 spending figures below the caps he negotiated with President Biden in this month's debt ceiling agreement. They’re vowing to oppose any appropriations bills that fall below those figures — leaving McCarthy with little room for GOP defections given the Republicans' slim House majority. 

“It's our view that a resolution was reached, and was voted on in a bipartisan way, and at the end of the day, any spending agreement that is arrived at by the end of the year has to be consistent with the resolution of the default crisis,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters Thursday in the Capitol. 

“Otherwise, what was it all for?”

The issue of government spending has been at the center of the battle this year between McCarthy and the hard-line conservatives, who had sought in January to win a promise from the Speaker to cut 2024 spending down to 2022 levels — a reduction of roughly $130 billion from current spending. The conservatives were furious that, as part of this month’s debt ceiling deal between McCarthy and Biden, next year’s spending came in above that figure, essentially frozen at 2023 levels with a 1 percent increase slated for 2025. 

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McCarthy has responded by claiming the topline figure he negotiated with Biden was merely a ceiling, not an objective. He’s instructed appropriators to target 2024 funding below that cap, and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, announced this week that she’ll do just that. 

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act set a topline spending cap – a ceiling, not a floor – for Fiscal Year 2024 bills,” Granger said in a statement Monday. “That is why I will use this opportunity to mark-up appropriations bills that limit new spending to the Fiscal Year 2022 topline level.”

Yet the conservatives are far from convinced. 

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) hailed Granger for putting out the statement. “But what I'm hearing,” he quickly added, “is that the intention is to claim 2022 [levels], and then utilize rescissions to take it back up to 2023, and claim that's some kind of a victory.” 

“We need true 2022 levels, and then we ought to be utilizing targeted cuts and rescissions to go beneath that, not pretend 2022 levels plussed-up with rescissions,” he said.

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.)

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) speaks to reporters as he heads to the House Chamber for a series of votes on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (Greg Nash)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) delivered a similar warning this week, saying the key issue is “the paradigm around what constitutes 2022 spending levels.”

“We don't think you oughta be able to buy your way into those spending levels with rescissions. We think that you ought to appropriate to that level. Because if you're only able to get to the 2022 levels with rescissions, then the budgetary process is void of the programmatic reforms that are necessary,” Gaetz said. 

“My concern with [Granger's] statement is that it seems still that 2022 levels are a term of art, rather than a term of math,” he continued. “I'm worried that Chair Granger's statement reflects a willingness to only get to 2022 spending levels through rescissions, which is not going to be palatable for my crew.”

Neither Granger’s office nor McCarthy’s responded to requests for comment Thursday.

The conservative criticisms have raised new questions about McCarthy’s ability to keep the confidence of his restive conference while cutting deals with Democrats to fund the government and prevent a shutdown. The Speaker has said the hard-liners are being unrealistic about governing in a divided Washington — but his arguments have failed to make those conservatives back down. 

“Nobody wants a shutdown,” Gaetz said. “But we’re not gonna vote for budgetary gimmicks and deception as a strategy for funding the government.”

Mychael Schnell contributed. 

Greene leaning toward yes on ‘s— sandwich’ debt bill — but she also wants impeachment

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said Tuesday that she’s inclined to support the bipartisan debt ceiling proposal set to hit the House floor Wednesday, but she first wants to secure a commitment from GOP leaders to move several other proposals in the future, including the impeachment of President Biden or a top cabinet official. 

“If you have to eat a shit sandwich, you want to have sides, OK? It makes it much better,” Greene told reporters just outside the Capitol office of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “So what I'm looking for is, I'm looking for some sides and some desserts.”

Greene named two “sides” in particular: A vote on a balanced budget amendment and another on legislation to prevent the hiring of new IRS agents — not only in 2024, as the bipartisan debt-limit bill would do — but also in the years to follow. 

President Biden last year signed legislation providing the IRS with $80 billion over a decade to streamline customer service, update technology and hire auditors to go after those who don’t pay the taxes they owe. 

Republicans have attacked the extra funding, arguing falsely that the IRS intends to use it to hire 87,000 new agents to target middle-class workers, particularly Republicans.

“There were audits and conservative groups were targeted,” Greene said. “One of the sides … I would like to see with this shit sandwich is a way to completely wipe out the 87,000 IRS agents.”

Then she named her “beautiful dessert.”

“Somebody needs to be impeached,” Greene said. She singled out Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Homeland Security Department, as “the lowest hanging fruit” in the eyes of Republicans for his handling of the migrant crisis at the southern border. 

“The border is a serious issue that matters to everyone all over the country, even the Democrat mayor of New York City, the Democrat mayor in Chicago, and just people everywhere,” she said. 

Lax security at the border has also allowed the flow of illicit drugs from Mexico, Greene continued, which in turn has contributed to the deadly fentanyl crisis across the United States. 

“Three hundred Americans are dying every single day,” she said. “Mayorkas, and I argue Biden as well — President Biden — both of them should be impeached for that.”

Greene said the proposals she’s seeking would not be attached to the debt-ceiling bill, but could come later.

“It doesn’t have to happen necessarily today,” she said. “But it can happen quickly, and I’m working on that.”

Greene emphasized that she remains undecided on Wednesday's debt ceiling vote — “I’m still coming to my decision,” she said — but she also suggested those Republicans fighting to kill the proposal were playing into the hands of Senate Democratic leaders who would prefer a “clean” debt ceiling hike without the GOP spending cuts. She predicted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — with an assist from GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) — would attempt to attach the proposal to more funding for the war in Ukraine, which she opposes. 

“I don’t want to see that happen,” she said. “I don’t want to see our group responsible for more funding to Ukraine.”

The comments arrive as McCarthy and his leadership team are racing to shore up GOP support for the debt ceiling proposal they secured Saturday with the White House following tough-fought negotiations that spanned most of the month. 

The Treasury Department has warned that, without congressional action, the government will default on its obligations June 5 for the first time in the nation’s history. 

A group of conservatives has balked at the agreement, saying it doesn’t contain nearly the level of spending cuts needed to rein in deficits and the national debt. Some of those conservatives are now floating the notion that they’ll try to topple McCarthy from the Speakership for his handling of the negotiations. 

Greene, however, threw cold water on that idea, praising McCarthy for his work ethic and blasting his conservative detractors for dividing the party. 

“I think some of this talk is maybe for attention, maybe for fundraising,” she said. “It’s not serious, and it would be a horrible decision.”

Pelosi seeks balance in post-Speakership role

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is seeking a delicate balance in the new Congress where she’s ceded her official leadership duties but still exerts outsized influence within a caucus she piloted for 20 years.

The unusual dynamics — Pelosi is the first Speaker in almost two decades to remain in Congress after stepping out of power — have left the newly designated “Speaker Emerita” with the fragile task of navigating a new role in which she hopes to remain a potent voice for her district and her party without stepping on the toes of the Democrats’ new leadership team.

That’s no easy feat for an historic figure who maintains a national profile, is still shadowed by a security detail and retains a degree of authority unique in the House chamber. 

Yet as lawmakers hit the 100-day mark of the new Congress, Democrats of all stripes said that, so far, she’s pulling it off.

“It is a difficult balancing act, but I think she’s managed it superbly,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), another West Coast liberal who has served with Pelosi for almost three decades. “She's been respectful to the new Democratic leadership — clearly being helpful, but not stepping on them, their message, or getting in their way. It's just been artful.”

It also appears to be by design.

In stepping out of the leadership ranks after Democrats lost control of the House last November, Pelosi said she would focus more of her energies on delivering for her San Francisco district. She also suggested she would take pains not to encroach on Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and the new, younger crop of Democrats who accompanied him into the top leadership spots vacated by Pelosi and her two longtime deputies, Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and James Clyburn (S.C.).

“I have no intention of being the mother-in-law in the kitchen saying, ‘My son doesn’t like the stuffing that way,’” Pelosi told reporters shortly after announcing her plans to step down. 

“They will have their vision; they will have their plan.”

Pelosi this week amplified that message, praising the new leadership team for doing "a terrific job" while expressing appreciation for the many opportunities she continues to enjoy as honorary Speaker.

"I’ve been overwhelmed by generous invitations to speak across the country and around the world," Pelosi said Thursday in an email. "Yet there is no greater honor for me than to speak for the people of San Francisco in the United States Congress.”

Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) said the former Speaker is making good on her promises.

“I see no evidence that there is any tension whatsoever,” Higgins said. “The Speaker has stayed in the background — literally and figuratively. And that is what she said she was going to do in deference to a new leadership team, and I think all evidence indicates that's exactly what she has done."

Yet while Pelosi has kept a much lower profile in her new role, she’s hardly faded into the furniture. Jeffries, for one, said he speaks with Pelosi frequently as he gains his footing as the new head of the party. 

“It's been wonderful for me to be able to consistently talk to Speaker Pelosi, lean on her for her advice, her thoughts, her guidance, her suggestions, her experience as the greatest Speaker of all time,” Jeffries said earlier in the year. “The factual and historical record, in my view, makes that indisputable.” 

Other Democrats delivered a similar message, saying Pelosi‘s transition out of leadership has made her more accessible to rank-and-file members seeking her counsel. 

“People come up to her on the floor. They're interested, they're concerned, they have questions,” Blumenauer said. “And she's a tremendous resource.”

Not everyone in the House, of course, is thrilled to have Pelosi hanging around. Republicans, for decades, have accused her of advancing “socialist” policies they deem destructive to American innovation and free markets. And those attacks haven’t let up since Pelosi has stepped out of the leadership spotlight. 

“Nancy Pelosi, honestly, should either be removed from Congress — she needs to retire on her own [or] she needs to be kicked out,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told The Hill this week by phone. “That is my personal feelings about her policies; they're that disruptive.”

Still, even a conservative firebrand like Greene — who was booted from her committees in the last Congress with Pelosi’s blessing — said Pelosi’s knack for wielding power is deserving of acclaim.

“Nancy Pelosi is someone I greatly respect for the career that she was able to build and the power that she was able to gain and wield, and she did it well,” Greene said. “She passed the Democrat agenda … She got the job done.”

However long she remains in Congress, Pelosi’s place in history is secure. She was elected House Democratic leader in 2003, and rose again four years later to become the country’s first female Speaker. After eight years in the minority wilderness, she took the gavel again in 2019, stepping down from leadership only this year after Republicans seized control of the House. 

Over those years, she helped to enact some of the most consequential legislation of the last half-century, including ObamaCare, Wall Street reforms and a massive climate bill. And she orchestrated the impeachment of former President Trump, not once but twice.  

That legislative track record is another reason Democrats say they’re happy to have Pelosi remain a part of the team. 

“There is a lot she knows about negotiation and getting things done,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

The practical changes in Pelosi’s daily routine are subtle but real. 

Pelosi’s office releases far fewer statements on daily news items than she did when she was party leader, but when they do arrive they still tend to churn headlines — a testament to the weight she still holds.

Her praise of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) meeting with Taiwan’s president drew widespread coverage; her two-sentence statement on Trump’s recent indictment turned heads; and her endorsement of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for Senate over two of her House colleagues was noted widely.

Most recently, Pelosi’s defense of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) amid calls for her resignation carried significant weight, especially after two House Democrats said the Senate stalwart should step down as she remains sidelined from Washington while battling shingles.

Inevitably, Pelosi’s schedule has also seen a change this year.  

As Democratic leader, she was famous for keeping an excruciating pace — in the Capitol, on fundraising trips around the country and research excursions abroad — and sleeping very little. (She once claimed to sleep four hours a night as Speaker, and five-and-a-half as minority leader.)

Stepping out of leadership has given Pelosi a new luxury — time — which has allowed her to spend more hours at home with her husband, Paul Pelosi, as he recovers from a violent attack at the couple’s San Francisco home just before the midterms. 

“She has time to herself,” Blumenauer said. “I've watched her for 25 years be in constant motion, juggling this, reaching out there, dealing with votes and paper and strategy and incoming crises. And this is a chance for her to exhale, to do what she does best in terms of being a thoughtful member of Congress. And I think she's delighting in it. 

“I think it's going to add years to her life.”

This is part of a series from The Hill on the House GOP’s first 100 days in power. Check out more coverage on