House conservatives block GOP bills, vent frustration in response to last week’s debt ceiling vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — House conservatives staged a mini-revolt Tuesday in retaliation for Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership in last week’s vote to raise the debt ceiling, with the right uniting to block progress on a mix of bills and express their frustration.

Led by outspoken members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 11 Republicans broke with their party in an otherwise routine procedural vote that upended the schedule for the day — and the rest of the week. It is the first such vote on a rule of procedure to fail in nearly two decades.

The group is among some of the same conservative Republicans who tried to block the debt ceiling bill from moving forward last week and later threatened to try to oust McCarthy after the package passed debt ceiling that President Joe Biden signed into law. Failing to take that step, they demanded a meeting with McCarthy, unsure how the impasse will be resolved.

“We’re frustrated with the way this place is operating,” said rep Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., one of the more outspoken members of the group. “We are no longer going to live in the era of the Imperial Speaker.”

At stake is not just a gas stove bill and others that are now stalled as conservatives lead their protest, but the political stance of the House Republican majority. Is it just a one-day spat that allows members to make a point or a more lasting breakup?

McCarthy, R-Calif., is working with just a four-seat majority, giving a small bloc of lawmakers considerable power to extract concessions from him.

“We are trying to resolve internal tensions within House Republicans. And once in a while you have to have a broadcast within your family, and I think that’s part of what happened today,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, RN.C.

Hours earlier, Republican leaders were touting how House Republicans had learned to work as a team after the rocky start to the year and the spectacle of McCarthy’s protracted election to become president.

“In sports, it’s called a game plan,” said Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the GOP’s top vote counter and former hockey coach. “Last week’s debt limit showed how well House Republicans have come as a team.”

It’s not entirely clear what led the Tories to revolt on Tuesday – they laid out a list of grievances over McCarthy’s leadership in handling the debt ceiling package. The House approved the package in an overwhelming bipartisan vote last week, over objections from conservatives, sending it to the Senate where it also passed with an overwhelming vote. Biden sign in law on Saturday.

Rep. Dan Bishop, RN.C., said the group is now demanding that McCarthy meet with them to reach an agreement on how the House will operate.

“We had a deal that was forged by all of us together, and it was completely unilaterally abandoned by the speaker,” Bishop said. “And there has been nothing so far to deal with the consequences of that.”

When asked if the protest was about the vote on the debt ceiling, Rep. Ralph Norman, RS.C., replied, “It’s about a lot of things.” Norman said the group was looking for “what we insisted on in January: the truth, sincere cuts and the establishment of economic security”.

Republicans had scheduled a mid-afternoon vote on legislation banning the use of federal funds to regulate gas stoves as a hazardous product. But efforts to proceed with this issue were unexpectedly stalled when the rule setting the terms of the debate was put to a vote. The GOP leadership kept the vote open for an extended period as Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., listened to concerns in the back of the chamber from some of his spirited GOP colleagues.

Eventually, the GOP leadership acknowledged the obvious and it was announced that the procedural vote had failed with 220 lawmakers opposed and 206 in favor. After hours of discussion in McCarthy’s office, it was announced that no further votes were to take place on Tuesday.

“We have other conversations to have,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said as he left McCarthy’s office in the early evening.

It took McCarthy 14 failed votes in January to become speaker amid objections from the Tory flank – a sight unheard of in modern times. He finally grabbed the hammer on the 15th try after making a number of concessions to the Freedom Caucus and other members.

One issue that has particularly frustrated conservatives is an upcoming vote to overturn a Biden administration gun regulation on so-called pistol straps, a stabilizing feature championed by some members of the Freedom Caucus. Some conservatives said House GOP leaders delayed consideration of the bill after members voted against the debt package last week.

Representative Andrew Clyde, a member of the House Freedom Caucus and owner of a gun shop who backed the bill, met with McCarthy on Tuesday afternoon. He said they discussed his gun splint bill and were assured it would get a vote in the House next week.

“I will hold them to that promise,” Clyde said in a tweet. “And I will never back down in the fight to defend our natural rights.”

Passage of the debt ceiling bill was hailed by McCarthy and other members of the GOP leadership as a crucial first test of their new majority, as they pushed Biden to the negotiating table and forced Republicans to limit spending in exchange for lifting the national debt. limit.

But dozens of GOP lawmakers voted against the measure, saying it didn’t do enough to restrain spending. And their displeasure spilled over the vote on the otherwise routine rules on Tuesday – a resolution setting out the rules for debate on various bills introduced in the chamber.

It is common for such procedural votes to pass alongside party votes. Scalise joined 11 Republicans voting no in a procedural step that would allow leaders to later revisit the rule for a vote.

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Associated Press writers Stephen Groves, Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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