Democratic fury over the mob attack on the Capitol and its aftermath is spilling into nearly every aspect of life in the House, squashing hopes for comity and threatening even mundane legislative tasks like the naming of a local post office.
Democrats accuse Republicans of nothing short of sabotaging the nation’s democracy with false claims that November’s election was “stolen” from former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for ‘reactionary’ GOP voting bills MORE.
Already angry that the refusal by some Republicans to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 was endangering lives, Democrats now see the GOP as directly putting lawmaker lives on the line with dangerous rhetoric that feeds outlandish conspiracy theories.
“It’s impossible for us to not look at them in a different light,” Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Biden pledges action on guns amid resistance Managers seek to make GOP think twice about Trump acquittal MORE (D-Mich.) said of the 139 Republicans who voted to reverse the election results.
Bad blood reached a new level Tuesday night when Rep. Sean CastenSean CastenDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Six ways to visualize a divided America Lawmaker calls Robinhood helpline to make point about customer service MORE (D-Ill.) took the highly unusual step of forcing a full floor vote on an uncontroversial bill to name a Mississippi post office because it was authored by a Republican who voted to overturn the election.
It was equally evident during a Postal Service hearing on Wednesday as a furious Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Connolly to GOP: I won’t be lectured by those who voted to overturn the election DeJoy apologizes for mail delays while defending Postal Service changes MORE (D-Va.) lashed out at a top Trump ally, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House House Judiciary split on how to address domestic extremism Connolly to GOP: I won’t be lectured by those who voted to overturn the election MORE (R-Ohio), who had accused Democrats of attacking Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Biden announces nominees for vacancies on Postal Service board Connolly to GOP: I won’t be lectured by those who voted to overturn the election MORE last year simply to damage Trump’s reelection chances.
“It was all a charade!” Jordan said.
“I didn’t vote to overturn an election. And I will not be lectured by people who did, about partisanship,” Connolly shot back, jabbing his finger at Jordan.
Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesHarris holds first meeting in ceremonial office with CBC members Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Congressional Black Caucus unveils ‘100 Day Plan’ MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday lashed out at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Trump to attack Biden in CPAC speech McConnell knocks Pelosi Jan. 6 commission proposal: ‘Partisan by design’ MORE (R-Calif.) for giving “aid and comfort” to the insurrectionists.
McCarthy, a short time later, would reply in turn, using a rare floor speech to accuse Democrats of adopting strategies of “grievance” designed to silence “millions of constituents” represented by the minority Republicans.
Freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who called former President Trump’s stand on Jan. 6 “our 1776 moment,” forced a vote Wednesday to end House business for the day; it failed but not before grumbling from members of both parties.
Many Democrats say it is untenable to work with those GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results even after the deadly attack.
“It’s an improbable situation because these are the people that tried to undermine our government. And they may be no less guilty than the people who attacked the Capitol,” said Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Democrats urge IRS to extend tax-filing season On The Money: Biden extends mortgage relief, foreclosure ban through June | Democrats unveil bill to end tax break for investment managers | MORE (D-N.J.).
“It is going to be much harder to work across the aisle,” echoed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMore than 700 migrant children in Border Patrol custody: report Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Budowsky: Cruz goes to Cancun, AOC goes to Texas MORE (D-N.Y.), who blamed some GOP lawmakers for endangering her.
“Even the aftermath of the sixth, there were [GOP] members that were kind of deliberately advancing falsehoods about my location, and then turning around and saying, ‘I’d love for us to work together sometime,’ ” she added. “This is very serious. Many members of Congress nearly died. … So, the idea that people just want to pretend that that has no impact on their ability to work is quite shocking, I think, and absurd.”
Republicans, for their part, accuse Democrats of distorting the events of Jan. 6 in order to paint the entire GOP as complicit for the actions of the mob.
Even the proposed 9/11-style commission to look into the Jan. 6 domestic terror attack has been bogged down by partisan politics. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House House Republican attempts to appeal fine for bypassing metal detector outside chamber MORE (D-Calif.) has been circulating draft legislation that would create an independent, bipartisan commission, where Democrats would get seven appointments and Republicans four.
Republicans have rejected that proposal, demanding an even split between the parties and subpoena power for both the majority and minority. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKlain on Manchin’s objection to Neera Tanden: He ‘doesn’t answer to us at the White House’ Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday called Pelosi’s plan “partisan by design,” and both he and McCarthy have pointed to remarks by the 9/11 Commission leaders — Republican Thomas Kean and Democrat Lee Hamilton — calling for an evenly split commission like theirs was.
“It seems most of this is politically driven,” McCarthy said of Pelosi’s plan, “and it seems like she’s setting up a system to fail.”
But House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House With threat of impeachment, Nixon quit in shame — Trump has received no punishment Hearings examine consequences of massive SolarWinds breach MORE (D-Miss.) defended the Pelosi proposal, arguing that the 9/11 panel was formed under a divided government, but Democrats now control the House, Senate and White House.
“It was five and five when you had split authorities in leadership,” Thompson told The Hill. For the Jan. 6 commission, “I think Democrats should pick the chair and Republicans can pick the vice chair and I don’t think in the end that would destroy a product that that commission would generate.
“To some it’s partisan, but to others it’s the process,” he added. “Our duty requires us to do that because God forbid, if we don’t, then something else can happen. The next time the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers doesn’t like what we do, they’ll just go tear up the place again.”
Casten’s effort Tuesday highlighted the acrimony. The Illinois Democrat derailed the bid by GOP Rep. Trent KellyJohn (Trent) Trent KellyDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (Miss.) to fast-track a bill to rename a post office in his district. Kelly had met with a group of protesters on Jan. 6 and later voted to overturn the election results.
Still, an overwhelming majority of Democrats opposed Casten’s gambit, with many explaining it was simply the wrong vehicle for holding lawmakers accountable.
“We have choices in terms of how we interact and with whom we work, and who we choose to help co-lead bipartisan efforts,” Kildee said. “And I think that’s more likely to be how this will be manifest.”
Rank-and-file Republicans say they just want to put Jan. 6 in the rearview mirror and move on. The events divided their party, with 10 House Republicans voting to impeach Trump and seven GOP senators voting for his conviction. While that pales in comparison to the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit, it is a historic high for an impeachment trial.
Moving on will be difficult given the bad blood and the daily reminders of what happened.
The entire Capitol complex still looks like a fortress, surrounded by a non-scalable 7-foot fence and hundreds of National Guard troops. Pelosi installed magnetometers at all entrances to the House chamber after some Republicans talked about bringing guns on the House floor.
Cristina Marcos contributed.