Despite a newly announced deal between the two men, much of the feud between GOP leaders and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) continues despite Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) vow to prevent a future health care vote that could cause disruption to the GOP majority.
Congress faces two key deadlines: one in March and one in June, when Republicans must pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling. If House Republicans fail to meet the February debt ceiling deadline, they will lose their cushion in the chamber over where to draw the district lines to be drawn after the 2020 census.
House Republicans are still standing by McCarthy, but many are concerned about the effects it could have next year, including potential primary challenges from right-wingers.
“I don’t think there will be a primary,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told FOX’s Martha MacCallum on Wednesday. “It all boils down to where the people’s priorities are. I do think that people in my district and in a lot of other districts, depending on where we’re facing, will probably go with their president, and Kevin McCarthy is very loyal to the president and supports the president very strongly.”
However, as lawmakers express concern, the threat of a divided GOP conference exists all too easily, and some have already said they will challenge Republican incumbents they feel are too weak.
Here are some of the opportunities for taking over primaries:
— Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) is running to replace retiring Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.). If Banks takes the seat in November, he could challenge freshman Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) in 2020, and he could leverage support from pro-Trump party members.
— Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) faces no primary challenger but has been vocal in his criticism of the upcoming redistricting process that could mean his district changes dramatically in 2020. If Soto upset Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) next month, he could try to continue to make conservative arguments against Republicans going forward.
— Two potential primaries await Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) next year: Potential challengers include Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.). Though neither Brat nor Wittman is seen as a serious threat, any House member who believes the vote on the tax bill hurt their chances for reelection can make that case in a primary against Garrett, who is seen as too conservative for some Virginia Democrats.
— Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) could face a primary challenge from the left as he faces reelection next year, though he appears likely to win after his controversial remarks last month on immigrants. Democrats could take out the popular King in a primary if they turn up the pressure with various outside groups.
— Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is one of the leaders of the Freedom Caucus, which could cause serious problems for Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) in a primary. More liberal members of the caucus could be motivated to take him out if his support for President Trump becomes an issue.
— Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) is among lawmakers that could have to face an uphill battle for reelection because of redistricting. In 2012, he won with more than 80 percent of the vote and had by the following election the most conservative district in the country. But his district now includes more minority population, which could make it tougher for the Arizona Republican to defend his seat in 2020.
— Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is a former chairman of the House Oversight Committee. He is also conservative and could face a challenge next year from the right, but any primary challenge could also damage Gowdy’s reputation and make it harder for him to lead House Republicans on any future issues.
The RNC also continues to stand behind McCarthy despite rumblings that he doesn’t have enough support to keep his position. On Tuesday, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) published a scathing op-ed in Politico in which he urged McCarthy to “step aside” so he can “seek greater leadership on the Party’s path forward.”
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