A group of conservative hardliners took aim Tuesday at Rep. John Katko during a closed-door conference meeting over his support of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) introduced a resolution to oust the New York Republican from his post as the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security during a House GOP conference meeting.
The introduction of the resolution — which was tabled and sent to the House Steering Committee, where it isn’t expected to see movement — took place after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urged members to remain unified and refrain from attempting to take action against the 13 House Republicans who voted in favor of the measure.
Loyalists to former President Donald Trump have repeatedly railed against the 13 House Republicans since the bill’s passage, accusing them of being “traitors” and helping get Democrats’ agenda over the finish line.
Supporters of the bipartisan bill — which passed the Senate in August with the support of 18 Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — argue that it provides necessary funding to aid their districts and has been disingenuously conflated with Biden and the Democrats’ sweeping $1.75 trillion social spending bill.
While members of the House Freedom Caucus have called for repercussions for the 13 Republicans, four of which are in the New York delegation, multiple members including Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) defended Katko, who represents a Democrat-leaning district in upstate New York, during the meeting.
Katko — who played a role in helping craft the bipartisan bill — stood by his position in the meeting, with his comments being met with applause from some within the conference, according to a source in the room.
“I’m focused on securing our border, supporting law enforcement, and stopping Democrats’ reckless spending in the Build Back Better Act. Our conference is united behind these efforts. I intend to continue leading on them,” he said in a statement following the meeting.
And some argued that the infighting is a distraction in a time they should be focused on messaging against Democrats’ massive social spending bill.
“Rome is burning and they are fighting over what color to paint the fire hydrant,” one member said. “What today was, was puberty for grown ups”
“Everybody’s district is different when people need to vote their conscience and vote their district,” another GOP lawmaker who did not vote for the infrastructure bill said.
Conservative critics — some of which led in the charge in the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her leadership role earlier this year over her criticisms of Trump — singled out Katko, with one lawmaker arguing the far-right’s frustrations stem beyond the infrastructure vote, with members taking issue with his support of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and his vote to impeach former President Trump.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) engaged in a heated exchange with McCarthy, urging leadership to take action, arguing his constituents have questioned why Republicans helped get the bill over the finish line, CNN first reported and a source with knowledge confirmed to The Post.
McCarthy shot back saying he has had to explain Roy’s votes in the past, to which Roy inquired which ones. A spokesman for Roy’s office said they do not comment on closed-door meetings.
Prior to squabbling over support of the infrastructure bill in the meeting, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) — who came under fire for posting a controversial tweet that included a cartoon video depicting violence against President Biden and progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — explained anime to the conference and stated he does not support violence against other members.
He went on to argue that anime is a way to reach a broader audience with their messaging, according to a source in the room.
As Democrats weigh censuring the Arizona Republican — who has previously faced backlash for ties to white nationalists — McCarthy called for the conference to stand behind Gosar, equating his comments to Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-Calif.) former controversial remarks calling for individuals to “get more confrontational” during protests against police brutality.
Several members described the conference meeting as “bizarre,” following Gosar’s remarks.
McCarthy previously told reporters that he spoke with Gosar following the tweet, which was deleted shortly after.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution on Friday to formally rebuke the tweet, which has garnered support from 60 other Democratic lawmakers.