House Republicans passed the rules package in a key test for McCarthy



CNN

House Republicans approved a set of rules for the 118th Congress on Monday, marking the first test of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ability to lead a slim Republican majority.

The provisions passed on a largely party-line vote, 220-213, with Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzalez joining all Democrats in voting against the measure.

McCarthy and his allies had to scramble to ensure enough support for the rules package last week after McCarthy’s concessions to GOP hardliners frustrated some centrist House Republicans. With little margin for error — and seen as McCarthy’s first test of whether he can govern — GOP leaders aren’t letting go.

GOP leaders urged Republicans who expressed skepticism, such as Rep. Nancy Mays of South Carolina, who said she was “on the fence” a day earlier, to get on board Monday.

After Republican foreign policy hawks balked at the prospect of defense spending cuts as a result of McCarthy’s deal with hardliners, McCarthy’s allies took to the radio to discuss what was and wasn’t in the rules package, particularly as it related to defense spending.

GOP leaders hope to quickly move on to their legislative agenda after passing provisions of a bill to return $80 billion in funding for Internal Revenue Service employees included in the inflation-reduction law to a vote Monday evening. , a massive social spending bill passed by Democrats in the last Congress.

However, the conflict over House rules underscores the difficult task McCarthy faces as a House leader. of the Act.

Tensions are high at the House GOP caucus because lawmakers still don’t know the full extent of McCarthy’s promises to his opponents, which were not made public in the House rules package.

“It’s not good to operate in a vacuum,” one member told CNN. “We were loyal and it slapped us in the face”

Another member said, “The devil is in the details we don’t know.”

McCarthy would not say Monday whether he would release details of the side deals he cut to become speaker, which has angered moderates in his conference. Many details — such as linking the debt ceiling increase to spending cuts and ensuring independent caucus members have more seats on key committees — were not disclosed.

McCarthy to flip 20 GOP holdouts last week He agreed to many concessions. This includes revoking House rules so that a member can go to a vote to oust the Speaker. The California Republican agreed to expand the mandate of a new select committee investigating the “weaponization” of the federal government to include investigating “ongoing criminal investigations,” setting up a conflict with the Biden administration and law enforcement agencies over their criminal investigations, in particular. On former President Donald Trump.

McCarthy also signed a pledge to keep the Republican-led House even Any increase in credit limit Approve spending cuts and discretionary spending for fiscal year 2022—which, if implemented, would reverse spending increases for defense and non-defense spending in fiscal year 2023. Last month’s $1.7 trillion omnibus package.

Texas Rep. Tony Gonzalez was the first Republican to oppose the House rules Friday. He said no on Fox News Monday morning.

“I’m against the rules for two different reasons. One is to cut defense spending, which I think is an absolutely terrible idea, and the other is to vacate the chair. I mean, I don’t want to see us in lockdown every two months,” Gonzalez said.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Mays said he was “on the fence” about the rules package because he “doesn’t support a small number of people trying to make deals or making deals privately. .” However, on Monday afternoon, Mays’ office said it supported the rules package.

“I’m raising hell about what potential backroom deals could have been made,” Mays told reporters.

Republicans who backed Monday’s set of rules came to grips with the concessions McCarthy had to make to win the speakership.

Representative David Joyce, a moderate Ohio Republican, told CNN that McCarthy should be concerned that a single member could force a vote of no confidence in the speakership.

“I am not a speaker. So it was more about Kevin than it was about me, but it got it back to the way it was in the first place. I don’t think we’re going to change the way we do business here,” he said, adding that it should only be used in the most extreme circumstances.

Asked if everyone agrees, Joyce told CNN: “Probably not.”

House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Cole told CNN: “I’m open to cutting costs and we have to do that. I’m not willing to cut security, which is half of the discretionary budget.

McCarthy’s Republican allies sought to push back on the idea of ​​cutting defense spending, saying domestic spending would be targeted.

“There’s going to be good conversations, there already have been, you can’t cut defense, right? It should go down a very predictable path,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Republican of Texas. “We’ve massively increased spending on non-defense programs because that’s always the deal, right? There’s a lot to work with there, in my opinion.

House GOP leaders plan to vote this week on red-meat news bills related to taxes, abortion and energy, starting with a vote on Monday to roll back an IRS funding increase.

The bill is likely to pass the House along party lines, but will not pass the Democratic-majority Senate.

This story and headline have been updated with additional information.

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