GOP Turmoil Intensifies, Nearing Point of Open Confrontation

( – Two independent instances of near-fisticuffs unfolded on Capitol Hill on November 14th involving legislators in both chambers of Congress. Some may find the occurrences satirically hilarious, but it’s just as likely that an equal or greater number will be saddened or angered by the apparent dysfunction in our nation’s capital.

The first of the two events took place in the hallways adjacent to the U.S. House while Rep. Tim Burchett was giving a standing audio interview to an NPR reporter. Burchett, a Tennessee Republican, claims that former speaker Kevin McCarthy sucker-punched him in his kidneys as he was walking by.

McCarthy’s alleged elbow shot was immediately followed by Burchett verbally accosting the California legislator and lambasting him for the move. During the supposed altercation, Burchett called McCarthy a jerk and asked him if he had any guts.

One-sided audio of the encounter can be heard here. McCarthy later denied the accusation, though some may find it relevant to know that Burchett was one of eight House GOP members to vote for the ex-speaker’s dethronement.

Only moments after Burchett’s alleged elbowing, a former cage-fighting senator challenged a Teamster union leader to a fight in the Senate gallery. Oklahoma’s Markwayne Mullin, a Republican, accused Sean O’Brien, the Teamsters president, of running his mouth and suggested the pair finish their disagreement before O’Brien’s testimony was over.

Mullin told O’Brien to “stand your butt up” and the union boss lashed back with the same line. The Republican lawmaker then stood up, took his wedding ring off, and squared up. Senator Bernie Sanders, the hearing’s chair, quickly ordered Mullin to sit down and told him the event was not about to devolve into a cage fight.

The hearing eventually resumed after all parties calmed down. Mullin later commented on the alleged Burchett-McCarthy dustup and told a reporter that he had recently kicked Burchett out of his workout group due to trust issues.

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