House G.O.P. Races to Line Up Votes for Rules After McCarthy Concessions

WASHINGTON — Speaker Kevin McCarthy raced on Monday to line up votes to pass a set of operating rules for the Republican-controlled House, toiling to tamp down defections from rank-and-file members who said he had given too many concessions to the hard right in the desperate and drawn-out process of securing his job.

Mr. McCarthy clinched the speaker’s gavel early Saturday after a historic 15 rounds of voting that stretched across five days, and after giving in to a sweeping series of demands from the ultraconservative rebels who opposed him that included allowing any single lawmaker to call a snap vote to oust him. The struggle underscored how difficult it would be for him to corral his narrow majority; on Monday, he was already confronting the first challenge.

The measure scheduled for a vote on Monday evening includes the so-called Holman rule, which allows lawmakers to use spending bills to defund specific programs and fire federal officials or reduce their pay; opening up spending bills to unlimited amendments; and paving the way for the creation of a new select subcommittee under the Judiciary Committee focused on the “weaponization” of the federal government.

Taken together, the concessions would increase transparency around how legislation is put together. But they could also make it difficult for the House to carry out even its most basic duties in the next two years, such as funding the government, including the military, or avoiding a catastrophic federal debt default.

Mr. McCarthy’s team was working on Monday afternoon to address concerns from more moderate Republicans, who said they could not accept the terms that the speaker had negotiated, many of which were becoming fully known only in the hours before the scheduled vote. It underscored the precarious balance that Mr. McCarthy must strike to appease the far right while maintaining the backing of a much larger group of more mainstream conservatives to pass any legislation on the House floor.

“We’re still fighting through it all today,” Representative Chip Roy, Republican of Texas and one of the lead far-right lawmakers who helped put together the legislation, told Glenn Beck, the conservative radio host, suggesting that the package of concessions and rule changes was still not final.

The concessions enumerated in the legislation Republican leadership hopes to pass on Monday include measures that conservatives have sought for years in an effort to increase transparency, such as requiring that lawmakers receive the text of bills 72 hours before a vote. It would end proxy voting, a procedure instituted by Democrats during the coronavirus pandemic.

It would also include the stipulation that legislation must address a “single subject,” in an attempt to discourage the introduction of sprawling legislation that mashes together numerous pieces of unrelated bills.

“Kevin has given us so many changes to this institution that will outlast him — whether he lasts six years, two years or six days into his speakership,” Representative Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, told Spectrum News. “These changes are fundamental.”

But two moderate lawmakers have publicly said they would oppose the legislation, and it was unclear if more were quietly planning to do the same. Republican leaders can afford to lose no more than four votes if all Democrats oppose the package, as expected.

Representative Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, said she planned to oppose the rules because she and other rank-and-file lawmakers had yet to briefed on the full extent of Mr. McCarthy’s concessions.

Many of them — such as allowing the right wing of the party a critical bloc of seats on the panel that allows which bills can be considered on the House floor and amendments may be offered — have not been enshrined in the legislation that was set to receive a vote and instead were approved in close-door negotiations with a handshake deal.

“We don’t know what they got or didn’t get,” Ms. Mace said on “Face The Nation” on CBS on Sunday. “We haven’t seen it. We don’t have any idea what promises were made or what gentleman’s handshakes were made. We just have no idea at this point. And it does give me quite a bit of heartburn.”

Representative Tony Gonzales, for his part, said he was concerned that Mr. McCarthy’s agreement with the rebels on spending reforms would lead to a significant cut to the nation’s defense budget. That prospect was a “horrible idea,” said Mr. Gonzales, Republican of Texas.

“I’m going to visit Taiwan here in a couple of weeks,” he said on CBS. “How am I going to look at our allies in the eye and say, ‘I need you to increase your defense budget,’ but yet America is going to decrease ours?”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.


Related posts