With House conservatives having shut down the chamber over House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's deal-making with President Joe Biden, there are conversations going on to try to bring the caucus back together.
It might have to be done amid a developing rift between McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., the GOP's No. 2 as potential movement toward a possible notice to vacate looms, according to Punchbowl News.
"There was a lot of anger being expressed," Scalise told the Capitol Hill insiders' blog on Thursday morning. "And frankly, you know … a lot of the anger they expressed was that they felt they were misled by the speaker during the negotiations in January on the speaker vote.
"Whatever commitments were made, they felt like he misled them, and broke promises, and they expressed that."
While more than a dozen House conservatives have blocked rules on four bills this week, effectively shutting down the chamber, there are some allegations coming from Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., about being pressured to back the speaker's debt-ceiling compromise with Biden under the threat his pistol-brace bill would not reach the House floor.
There is "a lot of anger on a lot of sides of our conference," Scalise admitted to Punchbowl News.
"[McCarthy has] got to resolve those issues with those members who have those feelings. You know, I'm working on getting the pistol-brace bill passed, and we're bringing it next week."
McCarthy remains unfazed about talk of a potential threat of disenfranchised fiscal conservatives making a motion to vacate him from leadership.
"We've been through this before," McCarthy told reporters Wednesday. "We're the small majority.
"You work through this and you're going to be stronger."
The notice to vacate is a move to call for a vote of no confidence for the House speaker, which could lead to another round of contentious votes to determine the House GOP leader.
"There's a lack of confidence," according to Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., "with the speaker and leadership, and we told him that; we told him this [Tuesday]."
Scalise, who has not challenged McCarthy's leadership, told Punchbowl News the issue is on McCarthy's plate after he cut deals to get his speaker's gavel after 15 rounds of voting in January.
"I don't know what those promises were," Scalise said. "[I] understand some of them went and talked to [McCarthy] and when they left they still publicly were expressing anger with him over what they perceived as broken promises, and that's got to get resolved.
"I don’t know what the promises were. I wasn't part of that. … So I still don't know what those agreements were. Whatever they are, [conservatives] feel that the agreements were broken. That's got to get resolved. Hopefully it does."
Not only did the conservatives object to the deal with Biden as insufficient, they claim it violated the terms of an agreement they had reached with McCarthy to roll back spending even further, to 2022 levels, to make him speaker.
"There was an agreement in January," Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., told reporters after he left the speaker’s office Wednesday morning. "And it was violated in the debt-ceiling bill."
McCarthy insists the agreement he made during the speakers race to roll back spending to 2022 was not a guaranteed outcome, only a goal. Besides, the debt deal has a provision that would automatically return spending to the 2022 level if Congress fails to put in place all the funding bills by January.
"We never promised we're going to be all at '22 levels — I said we would strive to get to the '22 level or the equivalent amount," McCarthy said Wednesday. "We've met all that criteria."
McCarthy also said he's not opposed to more funding for Ukraine, but he wants to see exactly what's needed rather than simply agree to undoing the spending caps that he negotiated with Biden and that were just signed into law.
For now, McCarthy and his leadership team need to just figure out how to bring the House chamber back into session.
"This is insane," Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said. "This is not the way a governing majority is expected to behave, and frankly, I think there will be a political cost to it."
The bills on tap this week were not the most pressing on the agenda, but are popular among Republicans and carry important political messages even if they have no chance of becoming law.
Among them is a pair of bills related to gas stoves, including one that would prohibit the use of federal funds to regulate gas stoves as a hazardous product.
House action came to a sudden halt midday Tuesday when the band of conservatives refused to support a routine procedural vote to set the rules schedule for the day's debate. It was the first time since 2002 a routine rules vote was defeated.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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