Connecticut Democratic MP Jim Himes didn’t want to lose his cool, but said this week he couldn’t help himself.
Himes was with two Republican lawmakers for dinner at an ambassador’s residence on Tuesday, just hours after cops were in Congress on the 6th during the riot.
“I’m usually the forgiving person, but I just said, ‘Fuck it,'” Himes recalled to CNN, telling CNN that he couldn’t help calling his Republican colleagues at that moment.
“I’m not going to sit here and say anything other than what we all know,” added Himes. “I just said, you know, I will never forgive the president for harming our democracy so badly, and it has been very, very difficult to see my Republican colleagues collaborate on this big lie.”
After that, Himes said, there was “a very long embarrassing silence”.
In the months immediately following January 6, tensions among members of Congress reached an all-time high. Many lawmakers refused to work with those who did not vote to confirm the presidential election, and the installation of the metal detectors from the floor of the House of Representatives generated suspicion and resentment.
On the Senate side, the unfolding tensions had gradually become more apparent, culminating in the bipartisanship shown in the recent vote to promote the $ 1 trillion infrastructure package, which saw 17 Republicans join the Democrats.
But on the House side, the last two weeks have made it clear that the tense dynamic has worsened. The creation of a special committee to investigate the 6th hallway of the house which poured gasoline on an already scorching working relationship.
“Especially for people who have experience and a history of working across the aisle, I felt like things were finally starting to thaw,” a Democratic adviser who pondered the past few months told CNN. “Unfortunately, it now feels like this has stalled this week.”
The source of the new tension, the employee cited was the pushback of having to wear masks again and the fact that some lawmakers were not moved by the testimony of police officers at the hearing of the special committee.
Just days before his confrontation with his Republican counterparts at an ambassador’s residence, Himes was caught in the crosshairs of yet another example of how political brawls affect independent business in Congress.
Shortly after being named chairman of the Special Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness for Growth, Himes found that none of the Republicans who originally announced they would serve with the Democrats on the committee would join the committee. Minority leader Kevin McCarthy had withdrawn his selection from the main special committee on economics because he was still upset that House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi turned down two of his elections to a much more controversial special committee: the one responsible for the January 6 insurrection examined.
“It is obviously disappointing to me that we were involved in the whole January 6 committee issue because we are obviously completely, completely separate from it,” Himes told CNN.
Himes said he spoke with McCarthy about his intentions for the select committee prior to the announcement and received no indication that McCarthy would be withdrawing his appointments until that happened. Although he says he has not spoken to McCarthy since the decision to remove Republicans from his special committee in hopes of “calming the mood,” Himes told CNN that he plans to reach out to Pelosi and McCarthy to turn to find a way to “isolate”. that the committee derailed by future political struggles.
Earlier this week, a routine rules committee meeting turned into a viral back-and-forth over how members talk about the January 6 insurrection.
Rules committee chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, advocated that members stick to the current issue as partisan warfare boiled up and affected members’ work.
“I wish we wouldn’t go that route now,” said McGovern. “We tend to have too many generalizations here that people paint with a broad brush that is imprecise. And I think if we want to go back to a time when we can actually find common ground, we all have to cool off a bit. ”
But things reached a climax when Maryland Democratic MP Jamie Raskin, who serves on the select committee responsible for investigating the insurrection, used some of his time ranting GOP MP Andrew Clyde and holding him on if he was There are comments on his previous one that describe scenes from January 6th as “a normal tourist visit”.
Many members called for order, but Raskin urged Clyde to admit that he had made his previous statement, which was the 6th.
The reinstatement of the mask mandate in the House of Representatives only sparked further violent resentment between the two parties.
Lauren Boebert threw a mask at a ground crew when it was intercepted while attempting to go on the floor of the house without one. The Republicans enforced several procedural delays in the House of Representatives to protest the new mask mandate. Many in the GOP railed Thursday against instructions from the Capitol Police that said staff and visitors could be arrested for bypassing mask rules, despite the fact that that exact language was used in a similar CNN publication released last year.
The House of Representatives’ Republican Freedom Caucus held a press conference pressuring McCarthy to put forward a resolution to remove Pelosi from her chair. Many of them later went back and forth between the House of Representatives and the Senate without a mask, to emphasize that the masking is different between the two chambers, and protested against their use in the House of Representatives.
And above all, rhetoric has reached a screeching new pitch.
McCarthy said he did not see the special committee’s first hearing on the investigation on Jan. 6. When asked about it by CNN, Pelosi shot back, “Every time you mention his name, I don’t answer you. Do not waste my time.”
After McCarthy described the new mask policy in the House of Representatives as “a decision conjured up by Liberal government officials who want to continue living in an eternal pandemic state,” Pelosi told reporters, “he’s such an idiot.”
Ordinary members also shot at their opposing side.
When McCarthy came into the House of Commons to rail against the new mask mandate and question the science and logic behind the decision, Democratic MP Tim Ryan delivered a passionate speech in which he spoke of McCarthy’s reasoning as “immature and appalling” and ultimately “under a minority “named leaders of one of the largest political parties in the United States of America.”
GOP Reps. Ralph Norman of South Carolina called Pelosi a “shame”, Jody Hice of Georgia described Pelosi’s leadership as “draconian, authoritarian rule” and Andy Biggs of Arizona said their “tyranny knows no bounds.”
Democratic MP Adam Schiff tweeted Thursday about McCarthy: “If anyone thought the GOP’s deadly incompetence ended when Trump left office, Kevin McCarthy proves otherwise. It reflects the former president’s anti-science and anti-truth mentality. For the sake of our democracy and our health, he must never become a speaker. ”
Democratic MP Jared Huffman got into a screaming battle with GOP MP Byron Donalds because Donalds, who told reporters he was not vaccinated, refused to put on his mask.
Huffman, who wore a mask, said Donalds was selfish for not wearing a mask, but Donalds replied, “Don’t worry about me! Take care of your business! ”
GOP MP Chip Roy, one of many right-wing Republicans who did not wear a mask in protest on Wednesday and who has tried several times to get the House to adjourn this week, said on the floor of the House: “This institution is a shame . And we should adjourn and close this place. ”
Some are hoping the house, heading for a seven-week hiatus, will help simmer those tensions.
“Fortunately, we’re all going home in a few days during the August break, and we’re going to take a break from it all,” said Louisiana GOP Rep Mike Johnson.