Hard-right Republicans pressed their mutiny against Speaker Kevin McCarthy into a second day on Wednesday, keeping control of the House floor in a raw display of their power that raised questions about whether the speaker could continue to govern his slim and fractious majority.
Mr. McCarthy, who enraged ultraconservative Republicans by striking a compromise with President Biden to suspend the debt limit, has yet to face a bid to depose him, as some hard-right members have threatened. But the rebellion has left him, at least for now, as speaker in name only, deprived of a governing majority.
“House Leadership couldn’t Hold the Line,” Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a leader of the rebellion, tweeted on Wednesday. “Now we Hold the Floor.”
After being forced for the second day in a row to cancel votes as they haggled privately with members of the House Freedom Caucus to get them to relent, leaders told Republican lawmakers on Wednesday evening that they were scrapping votes for the remainder of the week. In a remarkable act of intraparty aggression, about a dozen rebels ground the chamber to a halt on Tuesday by siding with Democrats to defeat a procedural measure needed to allow legislation to move forward, and business cannot resume until they back down and vote with their own party.
It underscored the severe consequences Mr. McCarthy is facing for muscling through a debt ceiling agreement with the White House that contained only a fraction of the spending cuts Republicans had demanded. The episode has reignited divisions within Mr. McCarthy’s own leadership team, with the speaker suggesting his No. 2 was in part to blame for the dysfunction. And it was a blunt reminder of the challenge Mr. McCarthy will face in holding together his conference to pass crucial spending bills this year, which will be required to avert a government shutdown this fall and punishing across-the-board spending cuts in early 2025. [Continue reading…]