Top GOP Leaders Heavily Divided

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

What would relations between House and Senate Republicans look like if Republicans win back the lower chamber? That’s the latest question to emerge about a seemingly divided GOP in the days leading up to the midterms.

Despite Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) having a good working relationship behind the scenes, Republicans believe both men will be driven apart by their constituencies and differing roles.

A partnership between McCarthy and McConnell would only be complicated by the two men’s relationship with former President Donald Trump, who still wields significant influence in the Republican party.

McConnell has been willing to negotiate and compromise with Democrats on several bills, a stance that has earned Trump’s ire and public criticism for the better part of two years.

In the House, McCarthy has been unwavering in his opposition to everything Democrats propose, leveraging the luxury that his opposition won’t result in a government shutdown or default on government debt.

That dynamic would change if Republicans win the House and McCarthy is elected Speaker.
Under that paradigm, the obstinate Republican would have control of the lower chamber’s agenda.

Darrell West, director of governance studies at Washington-based think tank the Brookings Institution, explained the stark contrast between McCarthy and McConnell.

“McCarthy is more of a populist while McConnell is an establishment Republican, so that leads to policy differences on a range of issues,” West explained, touching on each man’s views on Trump and the future of the GOP.

The contrast between the two was most evident in McConnell’s compromise that helped Democrats raise the debt ceiling with a simple majority vote, while McCarthy vehemently opposed such a measure.

Instead, McCarthy, backed by other House GOP leaders, made raising the debt ceiling harder by vowing to vote against such a measure, even if it was attached to popular defense legislation.