Representative Chip Roy on Monday accused House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of cutting a deal that would complicate negotiators’ efforts. A bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling is expected to pass this week.
But McCarthy’s allies quickly disavowed the Texas Republican, underscoring tensions ahead of a key meeting of the House Rules Committee on Tuesday — and the conservative holdout of Kentucky, Rep. They put new pressure on Thomas Massey. project.
Roy argued that McCarthy broke a handshake agreement in January that required all nine Republicans in the powerful caucus to agree to move any legislation forward, otherwise bills could not be considered by the full House for majority approval. Roy, who sits on the committee, and another conservative committee member are trying to block the bill from moving forward, which would essentially kill the debt ceiling bill.
“A reminder that during the Speaker’s coalition-building talks, it was clear that nothing would pass in the Rules Committee without at least 7 GOP votes — and that the Committee would not allow the rules to be reported without a unanimous Republican vote,” Roy tweeted.
Senior GOP sources acknowledged that seven Republican committee members had an agreement to agree to move forward with a bill, but flatly denied that all nine had an agreement to sign to advance the legislation.
“I’ve never heard of that before. If those conversations happened, the rest of the convention doesn’t know about them,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota. “Frankly, I doubt them.”
The controversy is notable because Roy sits on a panel divided between nine Republicans and four Democrats — as does GOP Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina. Both have emerged as leading opponents of the bipartisan debt ceiling bill to avoid failure on June 5.
A third Conservative who sits on the panel — Massey — has remained tight-lipped about how he plans to handle the rule vote in the committee. McCarthy agreed to name the three to the committee as part of promises he made during his hard-hitting speaker victory — all to give more power to conservatives on the committees, including rules typically stacked with the speaker’s closest allies.
If Massey joins Roy and Norman in voting against the rule at Tuesday’s meeting, he could effectively shut down action at the board.
But in January, Massey told CNN he was reluctant to vote against provisions to stop the bills.
“I would be reluctant to use the rules committee to reach a legislative decision, especially if it doesn’t represent a majority of our caucus,” Massey said at the time. “Therefore, I would never want to hold someone hostage — or the law — to love my position.”
Democrats on the panel could also vote for the ruling, sources told CNN, and that would ensure it has the votes to advance to the floor. But if Massey opposes the rule, only six Republicans will support it, complicating McCarthy’s efforts to get the plan to the floor as the House of Seven has agreed to take up bills with only Republican support.
Massey’s office declined to comment Tuesday on how he might vote, and neither Roy nor the speaker’s office responded to requests for comment on the Texan’s claim.
But Republicans close to McCarthy rejected the notion that the bills could move forward only with unanimous GOP support in the caucus.
“I’m a rule guy,” Johnson said. “When I checked, there wasn’t a rule that something had to come unanimously from the rules group. Now Chipmunk is a rules guy. So I think he understands that this is a majority system, and ultimately, we’re going to serve the American people in the best way that most of us know — It is going to pass this bill.
Other McCarthy allies agreed.
“I don’t know what Speaker McCarthy agreed to, but none of us know,” said Rep. Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma. “I think the tweet I read was the idea that it had to be unanimity to come out of the Rules Committee. I think that’s inaccurate, but I don’t know because I wasn’t in the room. I don’t know how you will react.