WASHINGTON — At the height of Chairman Kevin McCarthy’s quest for his job in January, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, rushed from meeting to meeting to make sure hardline conservatives got what they wanted. they wanted before agreeing to support the California Republican.
One by one, nearly all of their demands were met in what Roy would later call a “power-sharing” deal between McCarthy and his right flank. The hard right won three seats on the influential House Rules Committee (one went to Roy); a pledge from McCarthy that Republicans would never raise the debt ceiling without major spending cuts; and a rule allowing any lawmaker to force a vote to oust the president if he fails to keep his promises.
Now Roy, 50, the political chairman of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus who has become the hard-right’s spending expert, is accusing McCarthy of reneging on the deal and trying to exert his influence again – this times with potentially disastrous consequences. He and his allies are trying to overturn McCarthy’s deal with President Joe Biden to suspend the debt ceiling just days before the country is headed for default.
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Otherwise, he said, the House Freedom Caucus might have to confront McCarthy again. Several members floated the idea of calling for McCarthy’s withdrawal.
“If we can’t kill him, we’re going to have to regroup and rethink the whole leadership arrangement,” Roy said on Glenn Beck’s radio show on Tuesday.
That’s a far cry from the position Roy found himself in just weeks ago, when he worked alongside House GOP leaders to secure passage of a much more conservative bill on the boundary. debt, which would have lifted the borrowing limit only in return for substantial spending cuts. Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., a McCarthy ally, said he earned Roy’s respect by working closely with him on this package.
“I didn’t have an incredibly high opinion of Rep. Chip Roy. He’s one of my best friends now,” Graves said.
Now Roy, who is a mixture of legislative brat and eloquent firebrand, has been circulating documents breaking down all the different ways he thinks McCarthy’s 99-page debt limit agreement is, in his own words, a “betrayal” of the conservatives. In an easy-to-digest format, they explain — step by step — how McCarthy’s deal with Biden falls short of conservative demands to rein in spending, streamline energy project permits and impose licensing requirements. stringent work for social safety net benefits.
He and his allies see the country’s $31.5 trillion national debt as a bigger threat to America than the Treasury Department’s warning that the country could default on some bills by June 5. .
“No Republican should be voting for this deal,” Roy said at a Freedom Caucus news conference on Tuesday, hours before breaking with his party in an attempt to block the floor measure in a vote within the Rules of Procedure Committee. The effort failed; only one other Republican joined him in opposing a move to move the deal to a floor vote on Wednesday.
Yet the “no” votes against the legislation are beginning to pile up. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 30 House Republicans had opposed it.
“Bill is awful for America,” Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La, said.
McCarthy and his management team worked hard to build support, handing out their own charts and graphs touting the spending cuts. The bill appeared on track to pass Wednesday, with a significant number of Democratic votes to offset GOP defections.
But Roy’s charts are fueling the arguments of other Tories as they fight the legislation. He distributed a four-page memo last month with talking points for fellow Republicans as the negotiations continued. Then he published two charts emphasizing what he called the failures of the deal.
Roy “provides the most concise summary I’ve seen regarding the issues surrounding the debt ceiling agreement,” wrote Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on Twitter, who pledged to delay the Senate vote on the bill.
Born in Bethesda, Maryland, Roy grew up in the Washington area. His father worked for the IRS, and he earned his law degree from the University of Virginia (footballers Tiki and Ronde Barber, whom he befriended there, attended his wedding). But he learned hardball politics in Texas. He served as Senator Ted Cruz’s chief of staff and in many ways reflects his former boss’ pugnacious and verbose style.
But unlike many members of the Freedom Caucus, he is not a sidekick to former President Donald Trump. He voted to certify Biden’s victory and endorsed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for president.
Roy likes to invoke a scene from the movie “Braveheart” when he describes what the Conservatives’ approach to the limit on debt should be. This is where the Scottish freedom fighters have formed a tight line and their leader, William Wallace, repeatedly orders, “Wait! before launching a unified spear attack on the British.
“My position is: Hold the fucking line,” he says.
Roy claimed that one of McCarthy’s concessions to the hard right was a promise that nothing would come out of the Rules Committee without the support of the nine Republicans on the panel. On Tuesday, Republicans split on the debt ceiling package, which hit the floor by a 7-6 vote, with Roy and Rep. Ralph Norman, R.S.C., joining Democrats in voting against the measure.
Roy repeatedly said he felt betrayed by McCarthy.
“I think that’s going to be a problem for him,” Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said of McCarthy’s efforts to push through the debt ceiling deal. “They’re hemorrhaging.”
He said he believed a decision to oust McCarthy could be in the works if the president pushes the bill forward without a majority of Republicans. Buck said he could see the number of Republicans opposing the bill grow to more than 100 as lawmakers learn more about its contents.
Democrats see Roy’s tactics as endangering the country.
“This represents an all-time high of recklessness and stupidity,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said of Republican efforts to use the debt ceiling as leverage. He added: “The Democrats must have been the adults in the room.”
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