Far Right GOP Vows 'Reckoning' Over Kevin McCarthy's Debt Limit Deal

Rising hostility among GOP hard-liners is putting Rep. Kevin McCarthy's position as House speaker in jeopardy.

WASHINGTON — Republicans from the hardline House Freedom Caucus suggested House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) would pay a price for striking a budget deal with President Joe Biden.

“No matter what happens, there’s going to be a reckoning about what just occurred,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said Tuesday at a press conference with 10 other Freedom Caucus members who vowed to oppose the agreement.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the chairman of the group, avoided answering questions about whether he would support a motion forcing a vote of a no-confidence in McCarthy. But Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) raised his hand when a reporter asked the group if they were open to such a motion.

Bishop then told Politico that the so-called “motion to vacate the chair” is inescapable. “It has to be done,” he said.

Under House rules that McCarthy negotiated with Freedom Caucus members in January, a single member can force a vote to oust the speaker. In previous years such votes have required much more support; conservatives sought the change in order to hold sway over McCarthy.

The Biden-McCarthy deal, known officially as the Fiscal Responsibility Act, would raise the debt limit until 2025, hold spending flat in 2023, and limit spending to a 1% increase in 2024, with the promise of future reductions in the coming years. It also includes priorities Republicans sought like new work requirements for federal safety net programs and smaller funding for the Internal Revenue Service.

House GOP leadership has urged quick passage of the bill, describing it as a historic agreement that would reduce spending and get the nation’s fiscal house back on track. But conservatives are livid, saying it falls short of the spending reductions needed to sufficiently reduce the deficit.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) attends a news conference with senators and members of the House Freedom Caucus on the debt limit and spending reforms, in the Senate studio of the U.S. Capitol on March 22.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) attends a news conference with senators and members of the House Freedom Caucus on the debt limit and spending reforms, in the Senate studio of the U.S. Capitol on March 22.
Tom Williams via Getty Images

“Kevin McCarthy has done a good job of speaking the language. His No. 1 slogan is that the national debt is the greatest threat we have to America — that’s out of his words,” Rep Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said Tuesday. “It’s time to go back to the drawing table. It’s time for us to say no.”

Earlier in the day, Roy called the deal a “betrayal” and appeared to threaten McCarthy’s position as speaker if the legislation advances toward a vote on the House floor.

“We’re going to have to then regroup and figure out the whole leadership arrangement again,” Roy said during an interview with conservative radio host Glenn Beck.

It’s unclear whether Roy is serious about moving to oust McCarthy or whether his comments are simply bluster. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), another Freedom Caucus member, dismissed the possibility of such a maneuver, suggesting it lacked the support among House GOP.

“It would fail,” Gaetz tweeted on Tuesday.

Opposition from hard-line conservatives to the deal isn’t unexpected. It was always likely they wouldn’t support a compromise, and that more moderate Republicans, alongside with their Democratic counterparts, will be needed to get the bill through the House.

But rising hostility on the right could fuel a serious threat to McCarthy’s speakership — in the present, or in the months to come. Former President Donald Trump, the current 2024 GOP presidential front-runner, has yet to weigh in, and his position could tip the scales in either direction.

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