Many Republicans plan to skip House GOP retreat as they grumble about location and spending time with one another

Many Republicans plan to skip the House GOP retreat as they grumble about both the location and the idea of spending time with one another, with tensions still running high inside the party in the wake of their unprecedented speakership drama.

Fewer than 100 Republicans have RSVP’d to attend the retreat, which is less than half of the entire conference, according to a GOP source familiar with the attendance sheet.

The retreat is scheduled to take place Wednesday and Thursday in West Virginia.

Publicly, Republicans have cited a litany of reasons for not attending: from having to tend to reelection races to scheduling conflicts. GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, for example, is scheduled to appear on “Real Time with Bill Maher” later this week. Meanwhile, when asked if he was attending, GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota told CNN: “No way, I have to run for governor.” And Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee quipped: “I don’t retreat, I move forward! I got a farm to run.”

But privately, some Republicans have complained about the venue choice. Sources said Speaker Mike Johnson selected the Greenbrier Resort because it was “family friendly,” in a break from past retreats which have taken place in sunny Florida – the preferred location of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

And other GOP lawmakers and aides told CNN they were simply not enthusiastic about the idea of having to huddle with the rest of their party at a time when Republican infighting has prevented them from even passing procedural votes.

In a remarkable split screen, firebrand GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida will be attending a rally in Texas on Thursday in support of Brandon Herrera, a far-right candidate who is challenging GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales.

In another hiccup for the retreat, the House GOP’s keynote speaker – Fox Business Host Larry Kudlow – had to drop out at the last minute, sources say. Howard Lutnick, the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, will take his place instead.

Among the Republicans who have decided to skip the retreat include Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee; Reps. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, the co-chairs of the Main Street Caucus; and Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio, chairman of the Republican Governance Group.

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