McCarthy Takes Debt-Ceiling Victory Lap, as Usual House GOP Critics Again Threaten His Speakership

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) lives in a “Damned if I do, damned if I don’t” political world within the House Republican Caucus, lauded by some and threatened by others. The latest example comes after the Speaker pursued a bipartisan debt-ceiling deal with Joe Biden and House Democrats.


The debt-ceiling bill passed the House on Wednesday night with a final bipartisan tally of 314-117.

149 Republicans voted for the compromise legislation and 71 voted against it, while 165 Democrats voted for the legislation and 46 voted against it. Given that the passage of the bill required a simple majority — 218 votes — the bill’s passage was all but assured.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will attempt to rush it through the chamber and onto Biden’s desk by June 5 to avoid an unprecedented default.

McCarthy triumphantly lauded the bill’s passage during a conversation with reporters:

I think we did pretty dang good for the American public. Every question you gave me, ‘Could we survive? What could we even do?’ I told you then, it is not how you start, it is how you finish.

Needless to say, 70 House Republicans disagreed.

Among disagreeing Republicans, Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) huddled with other GOP critics, including Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) during the vote, which highlighted the continuing split within the House GOP Caucus. Lee called the bill the “Biden-McCarthy Debt Expansion Act.”

Prior to the bill’s passage, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry refused to answer a reporter’s question about whether he’d fill a motion to vacate the Chair if the bill passed, while North Carolina GOP Rep. Dan Bishop’s office confirmed that the motion was on the table and that he would support it if it’s brought forward.


Unsurprisingly, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz had his own take on the situation:

If a majority of Republicans are against a piece of legislation, and you use Democrats to pass it, that would immediately be a black letter violation of the deal we had with McCarthy, and it would likely trigger an immediate motion to vacate.

But Gaetz’s math appears to be off: With 220 Republican votes cast, 149 Republicans voted for the bill’s passage, while 71 voted against it — clearly not a “majority of Republicans.” This is not to suggest that a number of those “yes” votes weren’t made by some disgruntled Republicans who held their noses while they voted, figuring they got the best deal they could get, given the circumstances.

Among those on the D side of the aisle, do-nothing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez loved every minute of the Republican Caucus discord.

They are struggling here, and for them to not even be able to pass a rule is very indicative of how weak of a leader he is.

If AOC had one-tenth of the brain she thinks she has, she’d realize that McCarthy did a good enough job (from a Democrat’s perspective) holding far more than enough House Republicans to a “yes” vote to satisfy even Joe Biden, who praised the House for passing the debt ceiling bill, saying the budget agreement was a “bipartisan compromise.”


Biden added, “Neither side got everything it wanted. That’s the responsibility of governing.”

Incidentally, ever notice how Democrats hypocritically laud Republicans as “bipartisan” when they vote for legislation the Democrats favor, yet never seem to get around to bipartisanship and responsible governing when the shoe’s on the other foot? Me, too.

In closing, I do have one salient question, which should not be confused with stating an opinion.

Given the current divisive political environment in the country, let alone within the Republican Party itself, is it sometimes better to take less than a whole loaf, or stick to your guns and get no loaf at all?


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