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A Close Look at the Chaotic House Republican Majority


C-SPAN video of the House speaker election in January.

The tumult that broke out last month during the election of Kevin McCarthy for speaker illustrated the potential for profound dysfunction in the new House Republican majority. And the spectacle created by Republican lawmakers at the State of the Union address showed the unruly behavior of some in the G.O.P. rank and file that is becoming a new normal.

Many lawmakers who were leading a chorus of boos and heckling were familiar faces from the far right, including some who are poised to wield real power in the 118th Congress. The defining dynamic for House Republicans, who have a four-vote majority, may be the push and pull between the far right and the rest of the Republican conference.

Here is a closer look at the fractious House Republican caucus.

Departures and Newcomers

The caucus has shifted toward the right in other ways too, because of the departure of conservatives who bucked the party. Nearly three-quarters of Republican House members who did not run for re-election or who lost their primaries in 2022 voted to impeach Mr. Trump or to form the Jan. 6 commission. Almost all of that group also voted to certify the 2020 Electoral College results, in defiance of Mr. Trump and a vast majority of House Republicans.

Republicans who did not run for re-election or lost their primaries

A table shows House Republicans who lost their primaries or who left Congress, and had voted to impeach Mr. Trump or to form the Jan. 6 commission.

Voted to…
Former member Impeach Trump Form Jan. 6th commission Form Jan. 6 comm. Certify the 2020 election
Jaime Herrera Beutler Wash. 3rd Beutler Wash. 3rd
Liz Cheney Wyo. At large Cheney Wyo. At large
Anthony Gonzalez Ohio 16th Gonzalez Ohio 16th
John Katko N.Y. 24th Katko N.Y. 24th
Adam Kinzinger Ill. 16th Kinzinger Ill. 16th
Peter Meijer Mich. 3rd Meijer Mich. 3rd
Fred Upton Mich. 6th Upton Mich. 6th
Rodney Davis Ill. 13th Davis Ill. 13th
Trey Hollingsworth Ind. 9th Hollingsworth Ind. 9th
David B. McKinley W.Va. 1st McKinley W.Va. 1st
Tom Rice S.C. 7th Rice S.C. 7th
Van Taylor Texas 3rd Taylor Texas 3rd
Kevin Brady Texas 8th Brady Texas 8th
Chris Jacobs N.Y. 27th Jacobs N.Y. 27th
Madison Cawthorn N.C. 11th Cawthorn N.C. 11th
Bob Gibbs Ohio 7th Gibbs Ohio 7th
Fred Keller Pa. 12th Keller Pa. 12th
Steven M. Palazzo Miss. 4th Palazzo Miss. 4th

Because of redistricting, it is not possible to do a one-to-one match for every seat, but some newcomers who align more closely with the far right were elected to seats previously held by Democrats or Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump or to create the Jan. 6 commission.

A look at some Republican newcomers

A table shows Republican newcomers to the House who denied the results of the 2020 election before they were elected to office or were supported by the House Freedom Fund.

Newcomer Denied 2020 election results Supported by freedom fund Replaced
Eli Crane Ariz. 2nd Crane Ariz. 2nd Democrat Dem.
Monica De La Cruz Texas 15th De La Cruz Texas 15th Democrat Dem.
Anna Luna Fla. 13th Luna Fla. 13th Democrat Dem.
Cory Mills Fla. 7th Mills Fla. 7th Democrat Dem.
Andy Ogles Tenn. 5th Ogles Tenn. 5th Democrat Dem.
George Santos N.Y. 3rd Santos N.Y. 3rd Democrat Dem.
Harriet Hageman Wyo. At-large Hageman Wyo. At-large Republican Rep.
Keith Self Texas 3rd Self Texas 3rd Republican Rep.
Russell Fry S.C. 7th Fry S.C. 7th Republican Rep.

One of five newcomers who opposed Mr. McCarthy’s speaker bid, Representative Anna Paulina Luna, took over a seat previously held by a Democrat, Charlie Crist, who ran against (and lost to) Ron DeSantis for Florida governor. Ms. Luna has explicitly said the 2020 election was stolen and has joined the House Freedom Caucus.

Representative Harriet Hageman of Wyoming, who has also denied the 2020 election results, defeated Representative Liz Cheney in the primary. Ms. Hageman was appointed by Mr. McCarthy to the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which will focus on finding evidence that the government has silenced and punished conservatives.

Representative Andy Ogles of Tennessee, the member who screamed, “It’s your fault!” when Mr. Biden called for an end to the fentanyl crisis during the State of the Union address, replaced Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat who retired after redistricting diluted Democrats’ power in the Nashville-area district. Mr. Ogles also opposed Mr. McCarthy’s speaker bid and has explicitly said the 2020 election was stolen.

In all, more than one-third of the 41 Republican newcomers explicitly denied the results of the 2020 election, were supported by the House Freedom Fund, or both.

A Venn diagram shows the Republican newcomers in the House who either denied the 2020 election results, were supported by the House Freedom Fund, or both.

Denied 2020 electionSupported by Freedom Fund Burlison Collins Crane Hageman Luna Ogles Self Alford De La Cruz Fry Luttrell Mills Santos StrongBrecheenMiller

About a half dozen political experts who spoke with The Times said that many members of the Republican caucus have learned there is value in being antagonistic and refusing to compromise — a harbinger of more chaos to come.

“Confrontation attracts attention and, you know, the attention economy has always been important for politicians,” said Richard H. Pildes, a professor at New York University’s School of Law. “But traditionally you had to go through a series of gatekeepers or mediating institutions to get that kind of attention. The average member of the House wasn’t able to generate that kind of attention for themselves in a way that they, of course, now can very easily.”

Beyond attention, being confrontational appears to have financial incentives as well.

The internet has enabled a flood of money from small donors, which, Mr. Pildes said, has allowed politicians to bring in large sums without having to rely on large donors or party funds. Indeed, a Times investigation last year found that objecting to the results of the 2020 Electoral College was politically profitable.

“We’ve come to recognize the role of more extremism and more outrage, provoking more attention, provoking more media coverage, provoking more small donor contributions,” Mr. Pildes said. “And I think that’s part of the story here.”

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