‘Hold The Floor’: Right-Wing Stages Blockade Of House As Payback For Kevin McCarthy
WASHINGTON ― The House of Representatives stalled on Wednesday with members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus vowing to “hold the floor” out of frustration with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
“Kevin blew up the unity of the conference last week on the debt ceiling deal,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) said.
In an unusual rebuke to their own leadership, on Tuesday, 11 Republicans, including Bishop, voted against a procedural resolution bringing bills to the floor. The standoff continued Wednesday as the hardliners sought some kind of concession from McCarthy.
Freedom Caucus members are upset that the speaker compromised with President Joe Biden last week on “debt ceiling” legislation to let the federal government borrow money to pay for previously authorized spending.
Republicans had proposed steep spending cuts and stricter work requirements for federal programs, and McCarthy had successfully steered a symbolic bill through the House with almost all Republicans on board.
But the deal McCarthy struck with Biden contained only modest spending cuts and work requirements, disappointing conservatives, and the bill passed with more Democratic than Republican votes.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted Wednesday that leadership failed to hold the line, so he and his fellow conservatives would hold the floor, meaning they would stand in the way of passing legislation, even messaging bills about defending gas stoves from regulation. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) amplified his message in capital letters.
Members of McCarthy’s leadership team wouldn’t say Wednesday morning if votes would happen later that day. It’s not clear how long the standoff could continue.
Bishop said a temporary delay of symbolic legislation would be “immaterial in the scheme of things.” He said he hoped McCarthy could restore unity among Republicans with some kind of written agreement.
McCarthy conceded several things to far-right members to win their support for his speakership bid, including a rules change allowing individual lawmakers to initiate a no-confidence vote in the speaker. But the disgruntled Freedom Caucus members are apparently not threatening to use that option.