The promises that conservatives say McCarthy broke

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Can McCarthy mend fences with angry conservatives?

There doesn’t seem to be an immediate effort to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for shepherding through Congress a deal to raise the debt limit that is loathed by many conservatives — but he is feeling pressure from his right flank.

On Sunday, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that McCarthy “has a credibility problem” with the House Freedom Caucus over the bill he negotiated with President Biden, who signed it into law Saturday.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told Fox News’s Guy Benson last week that he will meet with McCarthy this week to “review” the agreement he made with conservatives in January as he scraped to secure their votes so he could become speaker.

Freedom Caucus members say McCarthy broke several promises he made five months ago.

  • Budget baseline: “He promised when he was running for speaker that we would use the 2022 baseline numbers as the appropriation numbers for this year, and then went back on that promise with this particular legislation, where he promised and signed into law the 2023 numbers,” Buck said on Sunday.
  • Not allowing a bill to pass with the support of more Democrats than Republicans: “We were told they’d never put a bill on the floor that would take more Democrats than Rs to pass it. We were told that,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a Freedom Caucus member, said last week.
  • Not taking up a bill without unanimity among Republicans on the House Rules Committee: “A reminder that during Speaker negotiations to build the coalition, that it was explicit both that nothing would pass Rules Committee without AT LEAST 7 GOP votes — AND that the Committee would not allow reporting out rules without unanimous Republican votes. #DebtCeiling,” Roy tweeted last week.

McCarthy has denied making the latter two promises. He hasn’t publicly commented on the first.

A deal made in the shadows

Neither McCarthy nor the Freedom Caucus released a list of the deals they struck back in January, so it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Buck had quite the dig against McCarthy on CNN for relying on Democrats to pass the rule on the House floor, a vote usually carried by the majority, setting up last week’s passage of the debt limit bill.

  • Nancy Pelosi, in her years and years of being speaker, never once asked Republicans to vote for the rule, the — a procedural mechanism that puts the bill on the floor. Kevin McCarthy, in his first five months, had to ask the Democrats and received 52 votes from the Democrats to actually have the bill heard. That’s really unheard of and shows weakness,” Buck said.

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