As Kevin McCarthy got closer to speaking, his new conservative supporters gained more power.
The GOP leader offered several concessions to win over the holdouts as he made his way past midnight on Saturday to claim the gavel. They include some changes that harken back to the Tea Party era – think budget austerity measures and the empowerment of rank-and-file members to oust a speaker. But there are other, newer demands that could carry just as much weight, such as conservative seats on a powerful panel that governs the House floor.
Much of McCarthy’s push for conservatives, particularly on spending and the debt ceiling, puts the House on a collision course with the Democratic-led Senate and President Joe Biden. Broadly speaking, the deal that could propel California Republicans to the speakership effectively leverages conservatives’ votes for greater influence in the new majority.
“We’ve had a lot of work to do and a lot of tough decisions to get to where we need to be,” Repp said. gary palmer (R-Ala.), a member of the GOP leadership and early Freedom Caucus player who supports the changes. “To quote Bill Clinton, we need to usher in a second era of ‘the end of big government.'”
Yet McCarthy and conservatives agreed tentatively, especially when it comes to spending deals, which would require Democratic sign-off to become law, far less than a guarantee. And for other corners of the GOP convention, McCarthy’s cheap way to win over a dime a dozen of conservative critics will be hard to swallow.
One of McCarthy’s interlocutors, Rep. Brian FitzpatrickSome described the spending targets as “aspirational”.
Perhaps the most high-profile of the concessions to conservatives, explained by Rep. Garrett Graves (R-La.) To his colleagues on a call Friday morning, the House GOP is on course to present a budget that spans more than 10 years — through fiscal 2022, according to three Republicans familiar with the plan. Reducing discretionary spending to level or less.
The deal doesn’t necessarily include Pentagon cuts, but any arrangement that won’t sit well with hawks on the armed services and appropriations panels, who have claimed to have secured billions of dollars more for defense than Biden asked for , even though Democrats controlled them all. Washington.
“It looks like we may find ourselves back in sequestration,” Rep. mike waltz (R-Fla.), a military veteran who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, told McCarthy and aides on a private conference call Friday to McCarthy, according to three Republicans on the call. Those automatic cuts were a hallmark of the desperate budget deal of a decade ago.
Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) also expressed concern on the call about the impact of the proposed spending cuts on defense, those in the know said.
A second budgetary measure included in the compromise, according to two Republicans, is an idea from Rep. Thomas Macy (R-Ky.): In the event of a looming shutdown, the House would pass a stopgap spending bill that includes 98 percent of existing funding — on appropriations. Initiating automatic cuts to encourage Congress to do its job.
Another key procedural change conveyed to some members by McCarthy and his team is that the Conservatives would hold three seats on the powerful House Rules Committee, according to three people familiar with the deal.
Because Republicans can only afford to lose two votes on the panel that determines which bills get to the floor, stacking it with conservatives will help them tank legislation before the full chamber votes. . McCarthy’s aides noted that any bill opposed by the three conservatives was likely to fail regardless, indicating that they would rather fight an ugly fight in committee than on the floor.
“We’ll be fine. We’ve had a lot of Freedom Caucus members before,” said Rep. tom cole (R-Okla.), the incoming chairman of the Rules Committee.
Reverting back to fiscal 2022 levels, as envisioned in the emerging agreement, cuts to defense programs would amount to about $75 billion, or 10 percent, if GOP leaders didn’t spare the Pentagon — a figure that would be discussed at the convention. alarms many Republicans.
But many of them acknowledge that the impact could be limited, because even if a cut of that magnitude passed the House, the Democratic-led Senate would likely reject it outright.
Summarizing some of the jitters outside the House chamber later, Senior Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said: “Okay, that’s all. You can open another can of worms… it will be an ongoing battle.
Still, some defense hawks downplayed the Pentagon’s chances of slashing the budget, noting that their ranks far outnumber those of fiscal hardliners who want cuts. (A GOP aide said the agreement with conservatives was on the total fiscal year 2022 spending number, not any specific commitment to cut defense.)
“Most of us will not vote to cut defense,” Rep. don bacon (R-Neb.) told reporters. “You can bring it to the floor. There are quite a few Republicans who are not going to cut defense spending.”
Wisconsin Republican Rep. mike gallagherwho also sits on the Armed Services panel, echoed: “A ton of defense hawks are necessary to get to the math of 218.”
Incoming Armed Services Committee Chairman mike rogers (R-Ala.) declined to discuss McCarthy’s compromise with conservatives this week after privately expressing his dismay to some allies. But he insisted he wasn’t worried: “I didn’t make that deal,” Rogers said. “I can’t talk about it right now, but I’m not worried about it.”
The emerging agreement also indirectly addresses the growing need to raise the debt ceiling, with other conservatives refusing to commit to supporting any increase without budgetary austerity.
Each key element of the deal with McCarthy’s right flank — close to agreement but still short of the final position as of Friday evening — has pushed the speaker’s gavel closer to landing after four paralyzing days of impasse.
Some Republicans argue that the concessions are largely about changing the culture of the House to adhere to a stricter set of rules, even if it has upset rank-and-file members who have opposed the convention’s decision on speaker elections. 20 holdouts as the hijackers they were trying to claim. Shoot the ransom and their hostage.
And it’s still not clear that the GOP leader has all the votes he needs right now. delegate election keith self (R-Texas), who switched his vote on Friday, indicated in his statement his move to support McCarthy, pointing to “obstructionists” in the mix who are trying to sneak into California for self-promotion purposes. are opposing.
But despite the murmurs, after a four-day standoff, McCarthy’s plans may finally be working. He overturned a total of 15 Republicans early Friday, surprising even some members of his leadership team, and Republicans now say it’s possible he could secure the gavel late Friday — setting off a long, public fight. Finished what some leadership is broken on egos.
Some Republicans already fear that McCarthy’s concessions could come back to haunt him and his convention as he tries to govern with a reduced majority. For example, some members argue that it would be difficult for McCarthy to hold onto the gavel if – or perhaps when – a member, Democrat or Republican, decides to vote to unseat the speaker.
When rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) raised concerns about Democrats weaponizing the power to challenge McCarthy should he become speaker, the leader told him not to worry, arguing that Republicans would come together And will “rally” against it.
He also sought to assuage a range of other concerns, telling members that he had done nothing that predetermines who gets on a committee and that “people should not be penalized in the process”. going” according to Republicans on the call.
His comment was partly a nod to Rep. Andy Harris‘ attempt to claim control of a subcommittee that would oversee the nation’s largest vessel of domestic spending – a push that infuriated his fellow appropriators.
While Harris received no assurances on that gavel, the Marylander was one of more than a dozen conservative dissidents who flipped to support McCarthy on Friday.
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