McCarthy cancels House votes while negotiating with party conservatives

 June 13, 2023

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) canceled a series of votes on Monday amid negotiations with 11 conservative rebels in his party, who have been taking advantage of the slim Republican majority to block legislation.

Both his allies and the rebels agreed with the decision, and said that progress is being made in moving forward.

“We aired our issues,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, South Carolina Republican. “We want to see this move forward as a body.”

“I think you’re going to see an agreement to move forward in the next day or two on moving the legislation we wanted to move last week,” said Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Good.


The rebels' main opposition to McCarthy came when he pushed through the debt limit agreement with President Joe Biden, which they didn't think cut spending enough or pushed Republican priorities hard enough.

The bills Republicans blocked advanced priorities like preventing bans on gas stoves and requiring Biden to get congressional approval for executive orders that spend more than $100 million.

Unfortunately, none of these bills is going to get through the Senate or overcome a Biden veto anyway, so the blockage is mainly symbolic to signal the rebels' displeasure more than it is an actual blockage.

After the votes were scrapped, Rep. Matt Gaetz said the blockade would end for the time being as McCarthy has agreed to reopen negotiations on a “power-sharing” agreement with conservative hard-liners.

“The power-sharing agreement that we entered into in January with Speaker McCarthy must be renegotiated,” said Mr. Gaetz, Florida Republican. “He understood that, we understood that.”

Challenging McCarthy

No one in the dissenting group has invoked their previous agreement with McCarthy that said any one lawmaker could challenge the speaker's leadership and force a vote on whether to retain him.

That could still happen, but for now the rebels are asking McCarthy to commit to only passing bills with Republican votes.

“We want him to choose us as his coalition partner, not the Democrats,” said Mr. Gaetz. “We can’t live in a world in which the Democrats are the coalition partner on the substantive and we’re the coalition partner on the frivolous. And that’s what we’re trying to work through.”

This fits with the far-right, polarized stance of the Freedom Caucus, but it doesn't seem wise for McCarthy to agree to this requirement when bipartisanship is necessarily always a negative thing.

They also want him to change the agreement after the fact, which doesn't seem like it's going to work, either.

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