Kevin McCarthy Could Have Big Problems If GOP Wins Narrow Majority in House

WASHINGTON — A faction of far-right Republicans have all however promised they’ll threaten a authorities shutdown if the GOP wins again the House of Representatives within the upcoming election, placing chief Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a precarious place.

Members of the Freedom Caucus have stated they’ll oppose any authorities funding invoice that expires earlier than the subsequent Congress, when Republicans may management the chamber and have extra leverage to make calls for.

“We should not fund a government that is continuing to allow open borders to endanger the American people,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) stated Wednesday on the House flooring alongside Freedom Caucus chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.).

It’s an illustration of the challenges that can confront McCarthy, the present House minority chief, if his social gathering prevails in November’s midterms — particularly if it wins by a small margin, which appears more and more attainable.

Earlier this yr, polling prompt that Republicans would retake the House in a “red wave,” giving them gigantic majorities. But the polls have shifted, and the newest evaluation from the Cook Political Report says solely 212 races presently lean Republican, whereas 31 are toss-ups.

Republicans want 218 for management. They may wind up with a majority as slim because the Democrats’ present four-seat cushion, which was barely sufficient to cross a number of symbolic police reform payments this week.

U.s. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) Speaks At A News Conference With Members Of The House Freedom Caucus On Sept. 15 In Washington.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) speaks at a information convention with members of the House Freedom Caucus on Sept. 15 in Washington.

Drew Angerer through Getty Images

Meanwhile, an preliminary letter from Roy this week about opposing a short-term funding invoice garnered 41 signatures from his fellow Republicans, and McCarthy has stated he would vote no as properly.

Government funding expires on the finish of subsequent week, however Democrats plan to cross a so-called persevering with decision to stop a shutdown and provides present lawmakers time for a extra full funding invoice after the midterms — however earlier than new ones are seated. Democrats can cross the decision with out Republican assist.

The Freedom Caucus would slightly wait till early subsequent yr — when the GOP might need extra energy — to vote on funding the federal government.

“If we don’t get change next week and we get a continuing resolution into December, we should demand change in December,” Roy stated in his speech. “And if we don’t get change in December, we should demand change in January or February or March.”

The downside is, even when Republicans take each chambers of Congress, Democrats will nonetheless have filibuster energy within the Senate and veto energy within the White House. The Freedom Caucus desires maximalist modifications on immigration, power and vaccines, however it would accept a authorities shutdown if it may well’t get them.

“I’m not interested in funding bureaucratic assholes who are making my people less safe in Texas,” Roy informed HuffPost on Thursday. “If Biden wants to shut down the government, that’s on him.”

Roy served as chief of workers to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) through the notorious 17-day shutdown that he helped lead in 2013. The move didn’t defund then-President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, however Roy famous that “Cruz did quite well in 2016,” when he positioned a distant second to Donald Trump within the Republican presidential major.

A spending showdown is unlikely in early 2023. Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Appropriations committees are organising a lame-duck vote on an omnibus spending invoice that will fund the federal government by subsequent yr.

Rep. Tom Cole, a veteran Republican appropriator from Oklahoma, informed HuffPost {that a} short-term spending invoice necessitating high-stakes votes in February or March can be unfair to newly elected lawmakers nonetheless settling into their places of work. And he prompt it might be futile to attempt to placate the Freedom Caucus.

“You can’t write an appropriations bill with a Democratic president and think you’re gonna get everything you want,” Cole stated.

“I’m not interested in funding bureaucratic assholes who are making my people less safe in Texas.”

– Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas)

But the Freedom Caucus may have different alternatives to throw its weight round. At some level subsequent yr, Congress might want to improve the federal borrowing restrict, which permits the federal government to proceed to spend cash as lawmakers have already required.

Conservative Republicans have more and more sought to carry the federal government’s creditworthiness hostage for different calls for. Just this month, Trump complained that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “gave it up for nothing” final yr.

A Speaker McCarthy would face a alternative: facet with the Freedom Caucus and threaten a default on the nationwide debt, with probably catastrophic financial penalties, or work with Democrats and danger his position as chief.

The Freedom Caucus demanded earlier this yr {that a} Republican House cross payments solely with a “majority of the majority,” which means it might not approve of McCarthy passing a invoice with Democratic votes. Not coincidentally, it has additionally sought a change to House process that will make it simpler to throw out the speaker.

One Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), prompt that McCarthy has achieved a superb job getting together with completely different Republican factions and won’t have such a tough time. After all, McCarthy survived an audio recording that exposed he was considering of telling Trump to resign the presidency after the Jan. 6, 2001, riot on the Capitol.

“Remember when those comments came out? They stayed with him, which I just think is proof of his efforts to bridge that gap,” Green stated.

Most importantly, Trump has stayed with McCarthy, seemingly delighting within the chief’s efforts to placate him.

Roy refused to say whether or not he’d again a House GOP mutiny in a hypothetical situation the place McCarthy works with Democrats. Instead, he famous that McCarthy had backed the Freedom Caucus within the low-stakes lame-duck spending battle.

“That’s a good sign,” Roy stated.

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