GOP cliques already causing some tensions

GOP CLIQUES ALREADY CAUSING SOME TENSIONS…. How certain are House Republicans that they’ll reclaim the majority in the next Congress? There’s some evidence that they’re moving past the “confidence” phase, and have already adopted the “internal factions fight for power” phase.

The first real hint of tensions came about a week ago, when a Politico piece noted a disagreement between House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) over the “America Speaking Out” gimmick. Cantor wanted it housed in a campaign committee, so the initiative could be exploited for fundraising and email lists, and Boehner wanted it kept inside the official GOP leadership structure, where it wouldn’t face campaign law limitations. A “heated exchange” soon followed, and Cantor is now reportedly ignoring the while “America Speaking Out” project.

The tensions seem to be growing — and expanding.

A member of the House Republican leadership on Thursday jabbed Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) for opposing the elimination of the GOP policy committee.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) publicly locked horns with Cantor in their high-profile spat over a proposal to eliminate the House Republican Policy Committee, on which McCotter serves as chairman.

McCotter, a Boehner ally, wants to eliminate the House GOP’s policy committee, which doesn’t really do anything anyway, and save $360,000 in taxpayer money. Cantor wants to keep the committee in place, prompting McCotter to go on Fox News and say the Minority Whip is “absolutely mistaken.” Taking a shot at one of Cantor’s pet gimmicks, the Michigan Republican added, “As for the whip, I would encourage him, especially when he’s got his ‘YouCut’ program up there, to turn it into ‘WeCut’ first.” (ThinkProgress has the video.)

It sounds a bit like high school, only with far less adult supervision.

I’ve heard from a couple of Hill staffers this week about the behind-the-scenes “drama,” and it seems like a dynamic worth watching. It’s not ideological — all of the players agree on nearly every issue — but there are personality-driven differences that are exacerbated by the assumption that these guys will be running the House in January.

Boehner has his clique, which includes McCotter and NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), while Cantor has his faction, which includes NRCC Recruitment Chair Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

This may prove to be nothing more than pre-election positioning, and the tensions could ease if expected wins materialize in November. Or it could be the start of a meaningful fissure and larger food fight. Stay tuned.