Yesterday we noted that many of the nihilists and fascists in the House Republican conference had a tantrum on Tuesday and shut down business in Congress to teach McCarthy a lesson. 11 of them refused to allow any bills to come to the House floor to be voted on. They extended their tantrum into Wednesday, paralyzing Congress and throwing McCarthy’s agenda into… limbo. Basically, the extremists in the Freedom Caucus told him that he’s at their mercy and that they could remove him any time they want to.
And yesterday Scalise and Emmer called the House to the the floor to vote on the rule for the 4 Republican bills that got scuppered Tuesday. But once the fanatics said they would vote against it again, Scalise recessed the House instead. McCarthy is trying to negotiate with the radicals but there’s a big problem: they don’t know exactly what they want and they’ve made no concrete demands. Pissed off, by evening McCarthy told Scalise to just send everyone home for the rest of the week. Punchbowl wrote that the infighting and chaos "called into question the viability of the GOP leadership."
When a reporter asked Andy Biggs, one of the nihilists, what they want, he said “I don’t know. The Speaker formed a coalition with Democrats to get us a $4 trillion national debt. And I continued to be concerned because he hasn’t repudiated that coalition. And my guess is he’s prepared to do that again on the next three must-pass bills: Farm Bill, NDAA, and the budget.” When the same reporter asked Ralph Norman, another crackpot, to elaborate, he said, “We’re looking for concrete things that are going to be done” but when pressed to be a little more specific, he mumbled, “well, that’s in process now… There’s a lack of confidence … with the Speaker and leadership. And we told him that, we told him this yesterday. There’s a lack of confidence with having the bill end up so different. We thought we had a bill that was pretty much the minimum and what ended up, pretty much everything was stripped out for the most part. And we talked about the appropriations bills. Most of us are for the gas stove bill that we have on the floor, but it’s just a total frustration and lack of confidence.”
Democrats were getting frustrated that the House leadership can't get their shit together. Mark Takano (D-CA), an officer of the Progressive Caucus, told me that “Once again, House Republicans are unwilling and unable to meet the needs of the American people and produce effective, meaningful legislation, throwing the chamber into chaos and another day of cancelled legislative business. The question still remains: what price did right-wing conservatives exact from Speaker McCarthy in exchange for his gavel? And what harm will they inflict on our nation in search of a means to their extremist ends?”
The Punchowl crew called it “the serious challenge to Speaker Kevin McCarthy since January’s grueling floor drama to win the gavel. And how the standoff is decided will have a big impact on McCarthy’s relationship with his right flank— and his leadership of the House. Let’s be clear about this: If the leadership can’t even bring up bills on the House floor— like right now— it’s a crisis for McCarthy, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer. McCarthy and his leadership team are engaged in a furious round of finger pointing.” At one point, McCarthy told the press that the whole thing is DScalise’s fault!
Politico was all over this as well. “The House’s [extremist] hardliners aren’t done exacting revenge on GOP leaders for what they see as Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s broken promises during Washington’s debt drama… Simply put, [extremists] who feel they got rolled by McCarthy’s deal with President Joe Biden are now telling him: Not again. It’s ground the House floor to a halt and returned GOP leaders to a familiar spot, forced to assuage hard-right critics who make up a tiny minority of their five-seat majority.”
“Kevin blew up the unity of the conference last week on the debt ceiling deal,” said hardliner Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC). He complained about McCarthy swapping “one coalition partner for another” by getting Democratic support for the debt bill and called for a new agreement in writing that would govern how the House GOP would run the chamber going forward.
Putting it more directly, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted: “House Leadership couldn’t Hold the Line. Now we Hold the Floor.”
McCarthy and his leadership team are still working to reach a truce with the members who are refusing to allow floor action— delivering a humiliating blow to the speaker days after a debt agreement that his allies considered a huge victory. As of lunchtime Wednesday, Republicans still had no idea when leadership could begin advancing a seemingly straightforward bill that rolls back Biden regulations on gas stoves, after conservatives tanked what’s known as a rule vote that would’ve advanced the legislation Tuesday.
…The conservative blockade also eroded efforts by McCarthy to tamp down the potential for one member on his right flank to force a vote on ousting the speaker, an outcome that leadership allies have repeatedly dismissed. Nonetheless, Bishop lobbed a short-lived threat to oust the speaker last week.
The North Carolina Republican and others on the right aren’t specifically vowing to deploy that so-called nuclear option— yet.
Instead, they made clear this week that they have other ways of making leadership pay in an effort to, in Bishop’s words, “recover the unity” Republicans had felt before the debt crisis.
What that means is less clear. Bishop said that “what happens next depends on how leadership is inclined to reciprocate.”
The roughly dozen conservatives who tanked their own party’s gas stoves bill Tuesday— grinding the floor to a halt— have refused to say publicly what specific concessions they’re seeking in return for allowing McCarthy to bring legislation to the floor again. They have called for reopening the discussion about the deals they cut with McCarthy during the speaker’s race, most of which were made as informal handshake agreements— to the frustration of some of their GOP colleagues.
Some in the conference have privately urged GOP leaders to send lawmakers home to cool off, fearing that the group of rebels is unlikely to relent this week.
But others are eager for the House to remain in session. The Oversight Committee is slated to vote to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt Thursday, setting the stage for a House floor vote as soon as next week.
…The Freedom Caucus has discussed strategy on this fall’s government spending bills, as well as their soon-to-be-released tax bill and an aspirational GOP budget. But their biggest focus, they say, is on federal funding.
“That’s the game. That’s the challenge,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), adding that McCarthy had pledged “a different” approach to spending bills.
Those Freedom Caucus members, including some who sit on the House appropriations panel, have pushed their leadership to set government funding levels below what McCarthy and the White House agreed to as part of the debt bill. If it doesn’t happen, they warn there won’t be enough GOP votes to carry their own party’s spending bills on the floor this year.
“Republican leadership has not taken reckless spending or reviewing these programs seriously,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said in a statement Wednesday. “Promises were made earlier this year regarding spending; I expect those commitments to be kept.”
While a final decision on the GOP’s funding figure hasn’t been made, senior Republicans privately expect that their original plans will end up close to the conservative demands.
House Republicans were already drafting their government funding bills to lower levels before the debt deal, and GOP lawmakers tasked with drafting those spending measures are signaling they expect to plow forward with their original plan.