Right-wing reaction to Kevin McCarthy’s debt ceiling deal has yet to materialize

WASHINGTON — Kevin McCarthy became Speaker of the House in part by empowering skeptical conservatives to force a vote of no confidence if he ever betrayed them.

Last week, McCarthy betrayed them – but so far hardliners have made no effort to fight back, let alone take the hammer away from McCarthy, despite their promises of an ‘account’ on the debt ceiling agreement with President Joe Biden.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, said Tuesday that the group has not agreed on a course of action.

“The Freedom Caucus is currently assessing the circumstances and trying to determine how we can improve our position,” Perry told HuffPost. “We understand, generally speaking, what our adversary is, and we’re working to defeat our adversary, who is leftist, liberal, destructive, and militarized politics – whether it comes from the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.”

The Freedom Caucus backed McCarthy’s approach to the Biden administration — a refusal to allow the federal government to borrow money to fund operations unless Democrats agree to spending cuts and “demands.” more stringent working conditions in federal aid programs.

But many in the group backed down from McCarthy’s deal, which suspended the debt ceiling longer than they wanted, cut federal spending less than they wanted and tightened eligibility for the safety net for some groups while softening it for others. Echoing the sentiment of many conservatives, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) last week called the bill a “turd sandwich”, and said it was a “treason.”

In January, McCarthy bolstered his support among conservatives by agreeing to change House rules so that only one lawmaker could table a “motion to leave the chair” and force an instant referendum on the presidency. Previously, such a motion required the support of a majority of the party to trigger a vote. Roy also claimed that McCarthy promised not to pass legislation with more Democratic votes than Republicans, as was the case with the “Fiscal Responsibility Act.”

A handful of Freedom Caucus members suggested last week that they favored filing a motion to dismiss, but none did. That’s partly because there’s no clear alternative to McCarthy – meaning the referendum could cause chaos with no obvious end. And several high-profile conservatives, such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), backed the bill in the first place, bolstering McCarthy.

When asked if a motion to rescind was on the table, Perry only replied that “it’s in the rules for a reason.” When asked about the nullification motion last week, Perry said his focus was on trying to defeat the debt ceiling bill and that whatever happens next , “We will decide once we have determined the disposition of this bill in its finality.” President Biden signed the bill on Saturday.

Rep. Ralph Norman (RS.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus who only reluctantly backed McCarthy in January, and who called the debt ceiling deal “idiot,” suggested Tuesday that a settlement could still come for McCarthy – but it wouldn’t. It is not “fair” to file a motion to quash now.

“It was a shock,” Norman said of McCarthy pushing the debt ceiling bill through the House with Democratic votes. “But it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

McCarthy’s allies claimed the media continually misjudged the speaker and his standing in the Republican conference.

“You’ve underestimated us since the beginning of this Congress,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), a member of McCarthy’s leadership team. “We keep winning.”

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