OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy did not have an easy path to the gavel, but he finally secured it after winning over several members of the Freedom Caucus with pledges to help push their legislative agenda.
And so far, so good, for the California Republican, according to one of the more prominent members of the caucus, Rep. Matt Gaetz.
The Florida firebrand said he had “no plans” to remove McCarthy after “Fox News’s Chad Pergram reported that a source close to the negotiations told him McCarthy needs 180 Republican votes as a bare minimum to pass a debt ceiling bill — if he doesn’t, a conservative Republican could call for a motion to “vacate the chair” in a vote of no confidence in McCarthy’s leadership,” the Washington Examiner reported.
But Gaetz pushed back and said that is not an option he’s entertaining at the moment because McCarthy has held up his end of the bargain.
“I have no plans to seek the removal of Speaker McCarthy barring some dramatic, unexpected turn of events,” Gaetz said in a statement to the Examiner.
“You don’t remove someone simply because you disagree with them. By that standard, no speaker would last a single day. Speaker McCarthy simply must deliver on the promises he made in January. So far, his record doing so is admirable. So far,” he added.
In late April, Republicans successfully passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, a bill that is widely regarded as McCarthy’s most significant achievement during his tenure. Subsequently, House GOP leaders have been engaged in negotiations with the White House, aiming to identify provisions of mutual agreement and determining the boundaries that neither side is willing to compromise on.
The Examiner noted further:
Several outcomes are at play, with McCarthy’s best-case scenario being that he and President Joe Biden come to an agreement as early as Tuesday, with the House voting on the newly negotiated bill early next week. The Senate would not likely vote on a bill until June 1 or 2, the former being the date that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen gave as a deadline for Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
Stalling on raising the debt ceiling for a long period of time is projected to create severe financial consequences for the United States, Yellen has repeatedly told both Congress and the White House.
McCarthy’s worst-case scenario could be a challenge to his leadership if Republicans believe he either conceded on too many areas or already are unhappy with the state of the original GOP debt ceiling bill. Some House Republicans who have expressed their concerns over the GOP’s bill, such as Gaetz and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), are also the same lawmakers who held out against voting for McCarthy for speaker.
Biden and McCarthy met Monday evening, and while the White House described it as “productive,” no deal has been made yet.
“He walked through some of the things that he’s still looking at he’s hearing from his members. I walked through things I’m looking at,” McCarthy said of his call with the president. “What I’m looking at are where our differences are and how could we solve those. And I felt that part was productive. But look, there’s no agreement. We’re still apart.”
On the other side of the political aisle, meanwhile, far-left House members have warned Biden against making too many concessions to majority Republicans.
The progressives pledged not to support any debt ceiling bill they believe gives too much away to Republicans, the Washington Examiner reported last week.
While Biden has expressed his firm stance on certain areas, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, as non-negotiable in the ongoing discussions, there are concerns among some of Congress’s most progressive politicians that Biden may be willing to compromise on key issues that hold significance for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the outlet added.