As House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy forges ahead in his quest to secure 218 votes to be the next speaker of the House, he is vowing to take a hard line in the future against any GOP senator who votes to pass the $1.7 trillion spending bill this week.
McCarthy wrote on Twitter, “when I’m Speaker,” bills from any senator who votes for the spending package will be “dead on arrival” in the House of Representatives. He was responding to a letter from Rep. Chip Roy, a conservative who has not said yet if he will back McCarthy for Speaker.
While McCarthy made similar comments during a press conference last week, it’s just the latest sign of the lengths to which the House Republican leader is going in an attempt to pacify and win over conservatives who are still on the fence about voting for him for speaker.
Roy and 12 other Republicans sent a letter to GOP senators on Monday saying that if the government funding bill passes, they would oppose and whip against “any legislative priority of those senators who vote for this bill.” McCarthy tweeted in response to their letter saying “Agreed. Except no need to whip – when I’m Speaker, their bills will be dead on arrival in the House if this nearly $2T monstrosity is allowed to move forward over our objections and the will of the American people.”
McCarthy, who currently lacks the 218 votes to become speaker on January 3 amid opposition from at least five House Republicans, has moved for the past several weeks to try to win them over with deal-cutting and potential rules changes to empower rank-and-file members.
But the holdouts have yet to commit to backing him, prompting a growing public pressure campaign from McCarthy, other GOP leaders and even former President Donald Trump to unite ahead of the crucial vote. If McCarthy loses more than four GOP votes, he would be denied the 218 votes he needs to win the speakership, meaning the race could go to multiple ballots for the first time since 1923. It’s unclear what would happen if the fight persists.
Senate GOP Whip John Thune on Tuesday downplayed the threat by McCarthy that he would block bills in the next Congress backed by senators who vote for the spending package. He also suggested Republicans are doing McCarthy a favor by passing this year’s spending bill now rather than leave it to next year, when Republicans will take control of the House.
“Right now, the emotions are high,” he said. “We’re running up against a holiday, trying to deal with this issue of funding the government and there are different opinions about how best to do that. I get that. But in the end, I think it’ll get done and I think it will set the stage for next year and it seems to be at least in the House next year, that would be an advantage for them. They will start with a clean slate.”
“This is a lot of unfinished business this year that they would have to take care of next year and I know from having been over there, that wouldn’t be easy, especially when you’ have a narrow majority.”
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said that McCarthy saying any bill sponsored by a Republican senator who supports the omnibus bill will be “dead on arrival in the House” is “silliness” on McCarthy’s part.
“We’re enduring the silly season of a campaign. For most of us, that’s over after you get elected. But he’s running for speaker of the House, so the silliness is still evident,” he said.