The pressure to call for punishment reached a new level on Sunday, after Pelosi announced that Kinzinger had accepted his invitation to join the committee. Initially, most grassroots Republicans were content to let Cheney serve without too much of a fight, but the addition of Kinzinger changed the conversation and put a new level of pressure on McCarthy.
As the loudest cries came from members of the far-right Freedom Caucus, sources say sentiment has started to spread beyond the hard team.
“There are a lot of them,” said a GOP member of the pressure to remove the couple from their other committees. “Supporting Pelosi’s unprecedented decision to reject McCarthy’s picks was a bridge too far. “
Pelosi rejected two of McCathy’s picks last week – Reps Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio – prompting the GOP leader to withdraw his five picks.
But getting them out of their committees would be easier said than done. While McCarthy could remove Cheney and Kinzinger from their other committees, Pelosi ultimately controls the composition of the committees. In theory, it could simply renew them to their current posts.
The scuttling shows how difficult McCarthy’s leadership role remains. While Tories have applauded his decision to attempt to nominate both Banks and Jordan and his subsequent decision to withdraw all of his picks, they still believe Cheney and Kinzinger should be reprimanded for not staying loyal to the conference.
McCarthy’s office did not respond to questions about Republicans prompting him to punish Kinzinger and Cheney.
Sources say McCarthy and GOP leaders are unwilling to get involved in a protracted battle to punish Cheney and Kinzinger. But when Pelosi first suggested she might nominate a Republican to the committee, McCarthy warned a group of freshman Republicans that if any of them accepted a speaker nomination, they should plan to entrust him with all their tasks to the committee. Now the members are pointing fingers at McCarthy’s threat and calling for action.
“A lot of people are wondering the same things,” said another GOP member. “If they accept nominations from Nancy Pelosi rather than the GOP, haven’t they actually left already?” Maybe they should ask President Pelosi for committee missions? “
The Freedom Caucus is already pressuring McCarthy to file a motion to remove Pelosi from the presidency. McCarthy didn’t weigh in on their push, which doesn’t stand a chance. But a Freedom Caucus source told CNN that if McCarthy does not get actively involved in the departure motion, it could amplify calls for him to remove Cheney and Kinzinger from their committees, the group keen on revenge for. one way or another.
A spokesperson for Kinzinger suggested that if McCarthy chose to punish the duo, it would be an example of a more serious issue with his leadership.
“It would say a lot if he took away the duties of their committees for keeping their oath to protect our democracy,” said Maura Gillespie, director of communications at Kinzinger.
Cheney has previously signaled that she doesn’t mind being kicked off committees as punishment for serving on the select committee.
“My oath, my duty, all of our oaths, all of our duties are to the Constitution and that will always be my goal, not politics,” she said after Pelosi announced her appointment earlier this month.