Mr McCarthy bumped into Representative Tim Burchett as Republicans left a meeting. It was unclear if the collision, which occurred in a narrow hallway in the Capitol’s basement, was accidental. But the exchange quickly turned heated as Mr McCarthy walked away.
Mr Burchett yelled at Mr McCarthy, asking why he elbowed him in the back and questioning whether he had any “guts”.
Mr Burchett told reporters later the shove was a “clean shot to the kidney” and “absolutely” on purpose. It is because “I was one of the eight”, Mr Burchett said. “He’s just a bully.”
Mr McCarthy told the conservative Washington Examiner following the incident that he innocently bumped Mr Burchett.
The dust-up illustrated the boiling frustration among House Republicans after a tumultuous few months, capped off by 10 consecutive weeks in session. The infighting has hampered the Republican Party's ability to perform basic functions in the House, such as passing annual spending bills.
Across the Capitol, Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin came close to a physical altercation with Sean O’Brien, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, during a hearing.
“This place is a pressure cooker,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said of the need to pass a stopgap government funding bill and send members of Congress home for Thanksgiving to “cool off”.