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.
|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.
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.”