Look, I get it, the recess bell hasn’t rang in 10 weeks. The tryptophan nap in your dad’s Lazy Boy and the football pickup game down the street is calling your name.
But keep it together for a few more days, boys.
Tuesday’s Republican Male Scuffles were miles from the legendary caning of Senator Charles Sumner, but the machismo was strong and tensions were high as Congress averted the latest shutdown threat — by coating “two-tiered” scheduling paint on top of the same kind of CR that got McCarthy ousted last time. Whether it be agita over the CR or having to work 10 weeks straight (try to imagine the horror, my fellow Americans), Republicans today took that stress out on each other.
I will start with the most “serious” of the “altercations” that broke out in Congress today and unpack them in “descending” order.
McCarthy’s Elbow Accidentally Bumped Someone
Alright, bear with me as I attempt to regale you with what TPM reporter Kate Riga told me from the scene of the errant elbow move that was upgraded into a full blown “kidney punch” by the end of the day.
Kate was in the House basement early Tuesday afternoon when Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) yelled at Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) before chasing after him in the very tight hallway. Via messages on Slack, Kate told David Kurtz and me that, though she was steps away from the drama, she couldn’t quite tell what started the fight. Probably because it was a nearly undetectable arm movement.
Here’s what she reported in today’s liveblog:
It seems that McCarthy shoved or threw an elbow at Burchett. Burchett initially tried to respond jokingly, but when McCarthy ignored him, he yelled: “Hey Kevin, you got any guts!?” Burchett then ran down the hallway to catch him, his tan coat flapping, to confront McCarthy again. McCarthy denied touching him and Burchett called him a “jerk.”
Some members asked what had happened on their way out of the votes a couple hours later, and Burchett has been flocked by reporters ever since.
As if the breathless coverage of the skirmish from reporters on the scene wasn’t dramatic enough, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — who loses life force any time he’s not the center of attention, let alone the center of a physical altercation — escalated matters by filing an ETHICS COMMITTEE COMPLAINT against the former speaker.
You don’t need to read the whole thing, but I’ve embedded it below in case you’re a masochist. The key quote from the most reviled member of Congress: “This Congress has seen a substantial increase in breaches of decorum unlike anything we have seen since the pre-Civil War era. I myself have been a victim of outrageous conduct on the House floor as well, but nothing like an open and public assault on a Member, committed by another Member,” he said, nodding at the time Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) lunged at him on the House floor, doing what any reasonable person would’ve done in the congressman’s presence. “The rot starts at the top.”
In case things needed to get any pettier, consider this: McCarthy and his allies have maintained that Gaetz’s motion to remove McCarthy as speaker was mostly just a form of personal payback because McCarthy had been unwilling to interfere in the House Ethics Committee’s investigation into allegations of misuse of campaign funds, sex trafficking and sexual misconduct against Gaetz.
McCarthy cartoonishly responded to the whole ordeal with true Uncle Rico (think Napoleon Dynamite) energy:
But, but, but: Believe it or not, McCarthy seems to have a history of throwing out body checks when he passes members he doesn’t like.
Bernie Sanders Has To Break Up A Fight
You just sorta have to watch the video to believe this one. Taking bets on if the “You’re a United States senator! Sit down!” memes will become just as prolific as “I am once again asking.” Nothing can top the inauguration day mitts, obviously.
We Are Calling People ‘Smurfs’ For Wearing Blue
As I was head down doing my very serious research on the elbow dramatics, Kate Riga alerted me to another confrontation instigated by another Republican Man on this blessed Tuesday November 14. Something’s in the water.
Apparently, in a moment of irritation at a House Oversight Committee hearing this afternoon, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) called Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) a “smurf.”
“You look like a Smurf, here, just going around and all this stuff,” Comer shot at Moskowitz, who was wearing a blue suit and blue tie today.
“Gargamel was very angry today,” Moskowitz shot back on Twitter.
I don’t think the encounter deserves more unpacking than that, but here’s a more thorough breakdown if you care to ingest a bit more bleach this evening.
We live in hell, etc.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
Catch up on our live coverage of the CR vote today: Johnson Aims To Keep Government Open But Avoid McCarthy’s Fate
More where that came from, courtesy of Kate Riga: Johnson Does Virtually Exactly What McCarthy Did To Keep Government Open
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
Mike Lindell Is Not Taking Last Week’s Elections Very Well — Hunter Walker
What We Are Reading
Correction: This article initially incorrectly identified Moskowitz’s party affiliation. TPM regrets the error.