Far Right Takes 'House Floor Hostage'

Conservative members block GOP advancements in protest of debt limit deal
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2023 8:33 AM CDT
Republican Revolt Brings House to a Standstill
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks to reporters outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 7, 2023.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing "the most serious threat yet to his leadership" as a group of far-right conservatives, including several who sought to thwart his election, have "essentially taken the House floor hostage," per the Hill. Eleven Republicans led by members of the House Freedom Caucus joined with Democrats on Tuesday to oppose a GOP procedural vote that would normally pass without issue. Indeed, it was the first rule vote to fail since 2002, per the Washington Post. The 206-220 vote—"an embarrassing and rare floor defeat for leadership that effectively sank legislation to ban the prohibition of gas stoves and to impose new congressional oversight on federal rules," per CNN—signaled the members' frustration over McCarthy's debt limit deal with President Biden.

In making the deal, McCarthy is said to have broken promises that secured members' support for his speakership, per Reuters. GOP Rep. Ken Buck, who opposed the rule vote, said McCarthy promised to keep federal spending at 2022 levels, per the Post. "How can he govern if House Republicans can't trust him to honor his word?" he tweeted Tuesday. "How are we supposed to stay unified?" Though McCarthy spent much of Wednesday in meetings with the holdouts and his deputies, there was no solution to the deadlock. "We're gonna come back on Monday, work through it and be back working for the American public," McCarthy told reporters, downplaying the threat to his leadership.

As he oversees a Republican majority of 222-213, he can stand to lose only four votes from his own party members on measures carrying Democrats' full support. But "if I would shy away from this, I wouldn't want to do this job," McCarthy said of his apparent superpower. "I enjoy this work. I enjoy this job. I enjoy this conflict." Republican Rep. Steve Womack sees things differently. "You got a small group of people who are pissed off, that are keeping the House of Representatives from functioning," he said, per the Hill. "And I think the American people are not gonna take too kindly to that." As of yet, the holdouts have not brought a motion to remove McCarthy as speaker—"something that would rip apart the House GOP and send the chamber into chaos," per CNN. (More Kevin McCarthy stories.)

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