Debt Ceiling Bill Could Threaten Speakership

Debt Ceiling Bill
Representative Chip Roy | Image by lev radin/Shutterstock

A Texas congressman who previously extracted concessions from U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in exchange for securing the speaker his gavel posed the biggest obstacle to the debt ceiling bill’s passage.

Now that the bill has passed the House, McCarthy could pay a steep price for comprising on the legislation, at least if Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has his way, The New York Times reported.

Roy is the policy chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of roughly 45 of the House’s most conservative members. McCarthy, who has cultivated a reputation as a moderate, had to woo the group to secure his position as speaker.

The caucus consented to his leadership despite its concerns that McCarthy would ignore their more populist policy priorities. However, it did so only after nailing down some concessions.

Those concessions included three seats on the all-important House Rules Committee (one of which Roy occupies), a commitment to spending cuts in any debt ceiling negotiations, and, crucially, allowing a single House member to force a vote to remove McCarthy from the speakership.

Earlier this week, Roy accused McCarthy of breaking the promises he made to his party’s conservative wing because of the deal he struck with President Biden to raise the debt ceiling.

On Tuesday, Roy went on Glenn Beck’s radio show and said:

“I personally think this was a complete and total sellout of everything that we accomplished in January, everything that we did in the first Limit, Save, and Grow Act, and everything we accomplished with [the] HR 2 [border security bill].”

He called the debt ceiling bill a “betrayal.”

In a not so veiled threat to McCarthy’s job as speaker, Roy told Beck that if he could not kill the bill in committee or on the House floor during the expected Wednesday vote, he would “have to … regroup and figure out the whole leadership arrangement again.”

On Tuesday, Roy attempted and failed to block the deal from reaching the floor for a vote by the entire House. He continued to work toward eroding the bill’s support by distributing breakdowns to his Republican colleagues of all the ways that the legislation would betray conservative principles, The New York Times reported.

Roy introduced an alternative to the deal McCarthy ultimately passed. Appearing on Fox News on Monday, he proposed that all the taxpayer money ostensibly allocated for COVID-19 measures and expanding the IRS be given to the Treasury to push back the default date and buy more time to revisit the debt ceiling bill.

Roy said, “The government is 40% bigger than it was pre-COVID. Let’s go back to pre-COVID levels of spending. That’s what we asked for … This [compromise] deal doesn’t do that.”

On Wednesday, Roy and his allies tried to use rules governing the debate of the bill to prevent it from going before the whole House for a final vote. However, the effort failed as Democrats joined Republicans who supported the proposed legislation to pass a significant procedural hurdle with a 241-187 vote. The bill passed the House later in the evening, The Hill reported.

In the end, Roy’s efforts fell short, with the bill now heading to the Senate. However, McCarthy’s speakership may now face fresh challenges from the Republican Party’s right flank down the road.

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