- by theguardian
- 21 Sep 2023
Speaker Kevin McCarthy kicked off a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning with a plea to his members: Let's move on from last week's debt ceiling drama and focus on the "next play."
A bloc of Republican hardliners had different ideas.
Hours later, a band of 10 rebels took down the GOP leadership's push to move on two bills this week, an extraordinary move they said was retaliation for McCarthy's deal with President Joe Biden to suspend the national debt limit.
The revolt underscored the fragility of McCarthy's narrow majority and the lingering tensions with the right-wing of his conference over the debt deal. But the protest also indicated that the members have not yet decided on whether to call for a vote ousting McCarthy from the speakership, something that would rip apart the House GOP and send the chamber into chaos.
For now, the conservatives have settled on a strategy to scramble McCarthy's legislative agenda until they believe he will listen to their list of demands. And they argue that McCarthy blatantly violated a deal he cut in January to assume the speakership on the 15th ballot, though all the details of that agreement were never publicly released and the speaker insists he's lived up to those promises.
"Today we took down the rule because we're frustrated at the way this place is operating," Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, told reporters on the steps of the Capitol. "We took a stand in January to end the era of the imperial speakership. We're concerned that the fundamental commitments that allowed Kevin McCarthy to assume the speakership have been violated as a consequence of the debt limit deal, and, you know, the answer for us is to reassert House conservatives as the appropriate coalition partner for our leadership, instead of them making common cause with Democrats."
The procedural vote failed 206-220, an embarrassing and rare floor defeat for leadership that effectively sank legislation to ban the prohibition of gas stoves and to impose new congressional oversight on federal rules. A procedural vote - known as a House rule, which sets parameters for floor debate - typically pass with the support of the majority party. The last time a rule failed in the chamber was in 2002.
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