Capitol Hill lawmakers are frustrated this holiday season, arguing that the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi has become a “toxic” work environment.
More than two dozen lawmakers from both parties told CNN that “decorum” in the chamber has eroded in recent years, while polarization has only grown. That has made the House under Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, untenable for some elected officials.
“’Toxic’ is spot-on,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Florida Democrat, told CNN. “I think there is plenty of Dem-on-Dem violence, as well as Republican and Democratic divisions. I think it is not conducive to a healthy legislative environment for colleagues to make these debates both so personal and caustic.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy argues that the situation is a direct result of Mrs. Pelosi’s heavy-handed tactics as speaker.
“Rules for thee, but not for me,” said Mr. McCarthy, California Republican. “This is part of a larger pattern.”
The political discord has increased with the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and the continuation of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mrs. Pelosi used the threat of the pandemic to push through proxy voting, which has decimated lawmaker attendance. Republicans say proxy voting has been rife for abuse, with some elected officials opting to ditch legislation for fundraising or campaigning.
“When Republicans take the majority, we’re all going to have to show up,” Mr. McCarthy said.
The Jan. 6 riot, meanwhile, has exacerbated tensions among Democrats and Republicans.
Earlier this month, House Democrats voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona Republican, for sharing a video on social media. The anime showed Mr. Gosar attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, and President Biden.
While most GOP lawmakers admitted the video was poor in taste, House Democrats argued it amounted to a threat of physical violence. As such, they opted not only to censure Mr. Gosar but also to remove him from all committees.
“This is both an endangerment of our elected officials and an insult to the institution of the House of Representatives,” said Mrs. Pelosi, who led the censure motion. ”This is about workplace harassment and violence against women.”
GOP lawmakers say the effort against Mr. Gosar opens up Democrats to similar circumstances if they lose the majority in 2022.
“If we take over the House next year, the same thing can happen to Democrats,” said Rep. John Katko, New York Republican.
The increasingly acrimonious environment has some House lawmakers wondering whether reelection is worth the effort.
• Haris Alic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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