House Republicans adoption rules package is key test for McCarthy

House Republicans adoption rules package is key test for McCarthy

House Republicans adoption rules package is key test for McCarthy

(CNN) — House Republicans approved a set of rules for the 118th Congress on Monday, in what marked the first test of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ability to navigate his slim Republican majority.

The rules passed by a majority partisan vote of 220 to 213, with Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales joining all Democrats in voting against the measure.

McCarthy and his allies had to scramble to ensure they had enough support for the rules package after McCarthy’s concessions to GOP hardliners to win the gavel last week frustrated some centrist House Republicans. With little room for error — and the vote seen as McCarthy’s first test of whether he can govern — GOP leaders left little to chance.

GOP leaders lobbied Republicans who had expressed doubts, such as Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who boarded up on Monday after saying she was “on the fence” the day before.

After Republican foreign policy hawks protested the prospect of defense spending cuts following McCarthy’s deal with extremists, McCarthy’s allies took to the airwaves to try to clarify what is and is not in the rules package, especially when it comes to defense spending.

GOP leaders are hoping to move quickly past the rules and put their legislative agenda on track, with a vote scheduled for Monday night after the rules on a bill to cut $80 billion in funding to staff the Internal Revenue Service that was included in the Inflation Reduction Act. , a massive social spending bill passed by Democrats in the last Congress.

Still, the skirmish over House rules underscores the Herculean task McCarthy faces as leader of a House with a slim four-vote Republican majority that gives a small bloc of members on either side of the political spectrum Republican inordinate influence to obstruct. of legislation.

Tensions are running high at the House GOP Conference as lawmakers still don’t know the full extent of the promises McCarthy made to his critics that weren’t made public in the House Rules package.

“Operating in a vacuum doesn’t do any good,” one member told CNN. “We have been faithful and it is a slap in the face”

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

McCarthy did not say Monday when he would release details of the side deals he made to become a speaker that angered moderates at his lecture. Many details — such as tying a debt ceiling increase to spending cuts and ensuring Freedom Caucus members have more seats on key committees — were not released.

In order to unseat the holdout 20 in the GOP last week, McCarthy agreed to a number of concessions. This included the return of House rules so that a member could call for a vote to oust the president. The California Republican has agreed to expand the mandate of a new select committee investigating the ‘militarization’ of the federal government to include investigating ‘ongoing criminal investigations’, setting up a confrontation with the Biden administration and law enforcement about their criminal investigations, particularly those into former President Donald Trump.

McCarthy also signed a pledge that the Republican-led House would tie any debt ceiling increases to spending cuts and approve a budget capping discretionary spending at fiscal year 2022 levels — which, if put in place implemented, would reverse the fiscal year 2023 spending increase for defense and non-defense spending from last month’s $1.7 trillion omnibus package.

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

“I’m against the rules for several reasons. One is defense spending cuts, I think that’s an absolutely terrible idea, the other is leaving the chair. I mean I don’t want to not see us every two months being locked up,” Gonzalez said.

Mace said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that she was “on the fence” about the rules package because she did not support “a small number of people trying to get a deal or deals done to themselves in private.” On Monday afternoon, however, Mace’s office said she supported the rules package.

“What I mean is whatever the potential deals are behind the scenes,” Mace told reporters.

Republicans who backed the rules package on Monday were attacking the concessions McCarthy had to make to secure the presidency.

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

“I’m not the speaker. So it’s about Kevin more than me, but it just brought things back to how they were originally. And I don’t think that’s going to change the way we do business here. “, he said, adding that it should only be used in the most extreme circumstances.

When asked if everyone was okay with that, Joyce told CNN, “Probably not.”

Rep. Tom Cole, chairman of the bylaws committee, told CNN: “I’m ready to cut spending and we have to. I’m not ready to cut defense and it’s half the discretionary budget. “

McCarthy’s Republican allies have sought to push back against the idea that they would cut defense spending, saying it is domestic spending that will be targeted.

“There are going to be some good conversations, there have been some before, that you can’t cut defense, right? It’s got to follow a very predictable trajectory,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Republican. from Texas. “We’ve massively increased spending on non-defence programs, because that’s still the case, isn’t it? There’s a lot to work on there, in my opinion.”

House GOP leaders plan to hold votes this week on a slew of tax, abortion and energy bills, starting with Monday’s vote to reverse IRS funding increases .

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

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