Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is facing stiff opposition to the latest spending bill and might have to risk his speakership by compromising with Democrats to get it passed, according to reports.
The California Republican had a rocky road to confirmation as speaker when he suffered 14 failed votes before finally winning a majority of his caucus to take the speaker’s gavel in January.
McCarthy also has faced many calls to step down during his short time heading the lower chamber of Congress.
But the fight over the coming vote on the budget bill is shaping up as a particularly perilous time for the speaker, according to CNN.
One issue that has put McCarthy’s position in jeopardy was the “move to vacate” provision he accepted to become the speaker. That rule allows a single Republican to bring a move to remove him from the speaker’s chair, making him far less safe in the role than any previous occupant of the seat.
Now, the conservatives in the House GOP caucus are saying the provision is very much on the table if McCarthy compromises too much with Democrats on the budget, according to CNN’s Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona.
Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho told the outlet that if McCarthy gives the Democrats and President Joe Biden too much in budget negotiations, the conservatives will bring the vacate motion to the floor.
“The challenge for McCarthy, and I’ll be real honest with you, is that if he works with the Democrats, obviously, the Democrats are not going to do it for free,” Simpson said. “They want something. So, it’s going to be a compromise — one of those really bad words in Washington for some reason. Then you’re going to find a resolution introduced on the floor to vacate the chair.”
The Associated Press also noted that McCarthy is facing stiff headwinds.
“The conservative opposition means McCarthy will almost certainly have to win significant Democratic support to pass a funding bill — but such an approach risks a new round of conflict with the same conservatives who in the past have threatened to oust him from the speakership,” it reported Tuesday.
McCarthy urged the GOP caucus to back a short-term budget deal to avoid an Oct. 1 shutdown of the government so that he had more time to work out a long-term deal. He argued that voting for the short-term bill would give his caucus time to work out greater cuts in the three-year spending bill that will be prepared next.
CNN reported the speaker, who has played the part of a budget hawk, told his members that the short-term bill would end up being a boon later, saying, “It’s a great place to have a very strong fight and to hold our ground.”
But compounding the budget fight is McCarthy’s reluctance to launch impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden, an issue that some conservative members are very hot to push.
The speaker told Breitbart News on Friday that he won’t start any such proceedings unless he knows he has a strong enough coalition to sustain it all.
“To open an impeachment inquiry is a serious matter, and House Republicans would not take it lightly or use it for political purposes,” McCarthy said. “The American people deserve to be heard on this matter through their elected representatives.
“That’s why, if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person.”
A floor vote would require 218 votes to allow an impeachment inquiry to go forward. With 222 Republicans versus 212 Democrats, the GOP has a 10-member majority in the House.
However, with around 20 “moderate” Republicans — some of whom were elected to districts that Biden won in 2020 — it seems McCarthy does not feel that he has a lock on the votes for impeachment, even though he has raised the issue himself several times.
The impeachment stalling and the budget fight are shaping up to be some tall hurdles for the speaker to jump.
If he succeeds in pushing through a budget bill with too many conservative measures, it is likely the Democrat-controlled Senate will reject it. McCarthy will then have a government shutdown on his hands.
However, if he compromises too much with the Democrats on the budget, he’ll face a revolt from conservatives and the “move to vacate” vote that could imperil his position as speaker.