Conservative Revolt Paralyzes U.S. House for Second Day

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. May 31, 2023. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives was paralyzed for a second day on Wednesday as Speaker Kevin McCarthy struggled to quell a revolt by hardline Republicans, raising questions about the party’s ability to advance its agenda in Washington.

McCarthy said he felt “blindsided” after a group of conservatives derailed their own party’s effort to block new environmental regulations on household gas stoves but predicted the two sides would resolve their differences.

“We’ll work through this, and we’ll even be stronger,” he told reporters.

But the chamber remained in a holding pattern, as Republican McCarthy’s leadership team scheduled and then canceled another attempt to advance the legislation.

One of the conservatives, Representative Tim Burchett, told reporters that the two sides were working to resolve “trust issues” and said they appeared closer to a resolution.

The hardliners have vowed to use “procedural tools” to slow legislation until McCarthy agrees to their terms, raising questions about whether McCarthy was at risk of losing his post.

Those hardliners were among the House Republicans who opposed McCarthy’s election as speaker in January until he agreed to concessions that make it easy to challenge his leadership.

They were also among the 71 Republicans who opposed the compromise debt ceiling legislation passed last week. They maintain that McCarthy and his leadership team did not cut spending deeply enough, ignored their input and retaliated against at least one of their members.

“What we plan to do is to be ready at all points in time, acting in good faith, to re-forge the unity that was destroyed last week,” said Representative Dan Bishop, one of the hardliners.

McCarthy dismissed claims of retaliation and rejected allegations that he had promised deeper spending cuts.

McCarthy oversees a narrow House Republican majority of 222-213, meaning that he can lose only four votes from his own party on any measure that faces uniform opposition from Democrats.

He endured 15 floor votes in January until he finally won the vote for speaker, agreeing to a set of demands that the hardliners now say he violated to pass the debt ceiling bill. The agreement allows a single lawmaker to seek his removal through a floor vote.

Hardliners said they would not pursue that route for now.

McCarthy said he was not concerned about his political future. “If you’re worried about those things, you’re never going to govern,” he said.

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