GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is losing control of his caucus after the debt ceiling deal with Hakeem Jeffries and President Biden, and the clock is ticking on how long he keeps his ringmaster hat and jacket.
House conservatives on Tuesday blew up an effort by GOP leadership to advance several bills in a dramatic confrontation on the House floor, the result of a revolt against the debt limit deal cut by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Biden just days before.
Eleven Republicans — most of whom are members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus — joined Democrats in voting against a rule to advance four bills related to gas stoves and regulatory reform, enough opposition to tank the rule and block the legislation from advancing to the floor.
Just before the vote closed, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) changed his vote to oppose the rule as well, a move that allows him to bring up the rule for another vote at a later time. The final vote was 206-220.
The revolt made for a dramatic scene on the House floor, where Scalise huddled with more than a dozen conservatives in the back of the chamber in a tense effort to flip votes and allow the bills to advance to the floor.
The normally-routine rule vote — which was scheduled to be only five minutes — went on for more than 50 minutes.
The revolt was a reality check for McCarthy, who has been taking a victory lap after Congress passed and Biden signed a bill to suspend the debt limit that was the product of negotiations between House Republicans and the White House.
“We’re frustrated at the way this place is operating,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) — one of the conservative who voted against the rule — told reporters as the vote was still happening.
“We took a stand in January to end the era of the imperial Speakership, and we’re concerned that the fundamental commitments that allowed Kevin McCarthy to assume the Speakership have been violated as a consequence of the debt limit deal. And, you know, the answer for us is to reassert House conservatives as the appropriate coalition partner for our leadership instead of them making common cause with Democrats,” he added.
If the House GOP can no longer pass simple, performative bills like FREEDOMS FOR GAS STOVES ACT '23 or whatever, the measure of McCarthy's reign gets shortened considerably. And yes, for once Matt Gaetz is correct: McCarthy absolutely made common cause with Hakeem Jeffries and the House Democrats on the debt ceiling measure, despite all the House Republicans who wanted to blow up the economy.
If McCarthy can't handle even basic nonsense legislation, the next time real stuff comes up, he's toast.