Conservatives weigh last-ditch Rules rebellion over debt deal

Kevin McCarthy likely has enough votes from both parties to pass his debt plan on the floor. That is, if he can get it there.

Lawmakers have returned to Washington for a vote on McCarthy’s bipartisan deal with President Joe Biden to avert an economy-shattering default, with the legislation set to come to the floor on Wednesday. As McCarthy works to lock down the 218 votes needed for passage, though, he also must navigate a major procedural hurdle — pitting him against some of the most vocal conservatives in his party.

The powerful House Rules Committee will spend Tuesday afternoon debating and — ultimately working to pass — the bipartisan debt deal, requiring a simple majority of at least seven votes on the panel to come to the floor. But some conservatives, including Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a committee member, have signaled they may use their power on that panel to block the debt plan from receiving a full House vote.

“I’m going to do what’s in the best interest and this bill is not in the best interest of the country. That is why Democrats are voting for it,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), another conservative who sits on the Rules panel and has suggested he will oppose the bill during the panel’s meeting.

While he told POLITICO he’d like to see more amendments added, he said: “I don’t know what else they could offer.”

Conservatives didn’t always have that kind of clout on the Rules panel. In fact, after McCathy’s white-knuckled fight for the speakership in January, one of McCarthy’s concessions was to bring more ideological diversity to House Rules, which decides what legislation gets a vote on the floor. The California Republican ultimately added three new conservatives, including two House Freedom Caucus members, to the roster: Roy, Norman and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).

Latest news on the debt ceiling

  1. Rep. Ralph Norman: ‘McCarthy has lost some trust’

  • House conservative threatens to push ousting McCarthy over debt deal

  • House Freedom Caucus to GOP: Vote ‘no’ on debt deal

  • Conservatives weigh last-ditch Rules rebellion over debt deal

  • How soon could the debt deal pass Congress?

  • Under the panel’s current makeup, Rules Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) can lose two GOP votes — along with all four Democratic votes — and still advance the bill.

    Senior Republicans believe that’s exactly what’s going to happen, according to three people familiar with the discussions. Norman and Roy haven’t explicitly said they will oppose, though Massie is expected to vote in support of the measure going to the floor.

    GOP Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said that he is “confident” that the bill will hit the floor on Wednesday, noting that Rules would be considering amendments. Members submitted more than 55 amendments to the debt deal, most of them from Republicans but some from Democrats as well.

    As for whether the House Rules panel will open the door for the deal to be altered on the floor, Emmer said: “That’s a decision they are going to have to make. We will see what they do.” The committee has the power to decided if a bill is considered under a closed rule on the floor, meaning no amendments; an open rule, meaning members could propose changes; or a structured rule, meaning lawmakers would only consider certain, curated alterations.

    Democrats, who have four members on the Rules panel, aren’t expected to help bail Republicans out, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the panel’s top Democrat, had strongly opposed the inclusion of stricter work requirements for some food aid programs and has lambasted Republicans’ handling of the debt negotiations.

    “This is not a happy day,” McGovern said at Tuesday’s hearing before rattling off a number of concerns with the legislation.

    Other Democrats were still assessing their options on the bill. Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told reporters Tuesday her roughly 100-member group was currently in the process of hearing out lawmakers’ concerns before leaders take a formal position, though she acknowledged the vote would be a “tough decision” for Democrats. The “chief pro” of the bill was that it hiked the debt limit, she said, though liberals were concerned about provisions like increased “red tape” for nutrition programs and the greenlighting of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project.

    McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that he expected the bill to make it through the Rules Committee, and was not concerned about chatter that the deal could spark a conservative rebellion to come after his job.

    McCarthy is meeting with conservatives on Tuesday, including House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Massie. But the California Republican has continuously defended the deal, arguing that Republicans got “major victories” despite controlling neither the Senate or the White House.

    “The largest cut in the history of Congress, the biggest ability to pull money back, we’ve got work requirements. … Tell me again what did the Democrats put in it? I couldn’t remember what that was,” McCarthy said, adding that “it is an easy vote for Republicans to vote for it.

    Still, Roy has signaled that he is looking closely at the panel’s powers on the debt bill, as he openly criticizes the bipartisan agreement.

    In a tweet Monday, Roy suggested that McCarthy’s team had told him that the GOP-controlled Rules panel would not advance a bill “without unanimous Republican votes,” though he offered no evidence of that agreement with the speaker, and McCarthy allies have publicly questioned his assertion.

    And in a radio interview on Tuesday, Roy appeared to directly link the fate of the debt bill to McCarthy’s speakership. Roy didn’t mention the California Republican by name, but said if he isn’t able to prevent the legislation from passing then “we’re going to have to then regroup and figure out the whole [House GOP] leadership arrangement again.”

    Massie, meanwhile, highlighted over the weekend how the deal could give Republicans more leverage in government funding talks later this year, but did not say how he would vote. Part of the agreement includes a plan, which Massie advocated for, that would require a one percent spending cut if Congress doesn’t pass a plan to fund the government by Oct. 1.

    Massie also pushed back on accusations that he had criticized the agreement, adding in a Sunday tweet: “I haven’t blasted this deal. Section 102 is a version of the Massie Plan. 72 hours to read a bill is an eternity compared to what we’ve been given in the past. Less than 100 pages is somewhat of a miracle.”

    People close to GOP leadership have expressed confidence they will lock down the support before Wednesday’s vote, with over one hundred Democrats expected to help carry the bill across the finish line.

    House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a press conference Tuesday that Republicans have privately promised they will deliver the votes from two-thirds of their conference — roughly 150 members — on the deal when it comes to the floor.

    Still, some of McCarthy’s GOP allies, including Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-Texas), have publicly opposed the bill. And conservatives are calling on their colleagues to oppose the bill, saying they expect it won’t get support from even half the conference.

    “This bill, if it passes, must pass with less than half of the Republican conference,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) told reporters on Tuesday. Then he delivered a message to his colleagues: “This is the moment now.”

    ( Information from was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

    Share With Your Friends!
    Share to...