Accused by Rep. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy chipped in Monday to cut a deal that would complicate negotiators’ efforts to pass a bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling this week.
But McCarthy’s allies quickly denied the Texas Republican, raising tensions ahead of a key meeting of the House Rules Committee on Tuesday — and putting new pressure on a conservative holdout, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who has not yet secured a position in the plan.
Roy testified that McCarthy cut a deal in January that all nine Republicans on the powerful panel must agree to advance any legislation, otherwise the bills would not be considered by the full House. for majority approval. That led to the debt ceiling bill being doomed since Roy — who sits on the panel — and another conservative committee member tried to block the bill’s progress.
“A reminder that during the Speaker’s negotiations to build the coalition, it was clear that nothing would pass in the Rules Committee without at least 7 GOP votes – AND that the Committee would not allow reporting on the rules without unanimous Republican votes,” Roy tweeted.
Senior GOP sources acknowledged that there was an agreement for seven Republican committee members to agree to continue to advance a bill on the floor, but they strongly disputed that there was an agreement for all of them. nine to sign for the development of the law.
“I’ve never heard that before. When those conversations happened, the rest of the conference didn’t know about them,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota. “And honestly, I doubt them.”
The dispute is significant because Roy sits on the committee — which is split between nine Republicans and four Democrats — as well as GOP Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina. Both men have emerged as leading foes of the bipartisan debt limit bill to avoid a June 5 default, arguing it will do little to curb government spending.
The third conservative sitting on the panel — Massie — was tight-lipped about how he plans to handle the committee’s rule vote. McCarthy agreed to name all three men to the panel as part of promises he made during his hard-fought victory for speaker — all to give more power to conservatives on committees, including the Rules, which are usually stacked with the speaker’s closest allies.
If Massie joins Roy and Norman and votes against the rule at Tuesday’s meeting, he could effectively stall the measure in committee.
But in January, Massie told CNN he was reluctant to vote against rules to stop the bills in their tracks.
“I hesitate to try to use the rules committee to achieve a legislative result, especially if it does not represent a large majority of our caucus,” Massie said at the time. “So I’m not trying to use my position there to like, hold someone hostage – or hold the law hostage.”
Democrats on the committee could also vote for the rule, sources told CNN, and that would ensure it has the votes to advance to the floor. But if Massie opposes the rule, only six Republicans will favor it, complicating McCarthy’s efforts to bring the plan to the floor because he previously agreed to take up only bills supported by seven committee Republicans.
Massie’s office declined to comment on how he voted Tuesday, and neither Roy nor the speaker’s office responded to requests for comment on the Texan’s statement.
But Republicans close to McCarthy rejected the idea that the bills could only move forward with unanimous GOP support in the committee.
“I’m a commanding person,” Johnson said. “And as far as I’m concerned, there’s no rule that someone has to come out of the Rules Committee unanimously. Now Chip’s a rules guy, too. So I think he’ll understand that, that this is a majoritarian institution, and ultimately , we will serve the American people in the best way most of us know how – that is to pass this bill.
Some of McCarthy’s allies agreed.
“I don’t know what Speaker McCarthy agreed to, but that’s not something any of us know,” said Rep. Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma. “I think that comment is that it should have been unanimous out of the Rules Committee to go to the floor was the tweet that I read. And I think that’s inaccurate, at best, but I don’t know because I’m not in the room .I don’t know how you can have something like that work.