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Republican lawmakers say McCarthy is held ‘hostage’ by holdouts in House budget battle

‘And the truth is, they’re not holding him hostage, they’re holding the whole conference hostage,’ one lawmaker said.

Some Republican lawmakers remain supportive of the House speaker in the fight over approving the government’s budget and avoiding a shutdown.

Two House GOP lawmakers, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, spoke to Fox News Digital about the ongoing negotiations to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government.

The House convened on Thursday after a defense spending bill failed after several GOP holdouts — including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida — shot down the measure that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was pushing to pass.

“They got him hostage. And the truth is, they’re not holding him hostage, they’re holding the whole conference hostage,” one congressman told Fox News Digital.

The lawmaker noted that 212 House Republicans supporting the measure were contrasted by the six no votes, though they noted that Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole’s no vote “was a procedural thing.”

One of the reasons the holdouts rejected the bill was due to increased Ukraine aid. On Friday, it was reported that McCarthy would remove funding for training Ukrainian armed forces from the defense spending bill, but on Saturday he appeared to reverse course and said it would remain in the bill.

McCarthy is facing a potential motion to vacate against him, but the holdouts don’t have a name in mind for a potential new speaker, according to one congressman.

The congressman said on Thursday that McCarthy “earned the right to be speaker of the House” and that he will “be a good speaker” if the holdouts “give him a chance.”

The lawmaker also pointed out that “five hard-line Republicans” have so much power to derail bills, because in the narrowly divided House, Democrats who vote as a block make it difficult to pass anything.

The lawmaker said he wasn’t sure what the holdouts hope to gain from killing the spending provision, but from “the Democrat holdout standpoint, what they hope to accomplish is maintaining the current budget deficit.”

“This does not get talked about a whole lot,” the congressman said, noting that the national debt has risen under President Biden from “$27.7 trillion to $33 trillion.”

“The debt has gone up $5.8 trillion since Biden was sworn into office,” the congressman said. “There’s no reason for that. We’re not in a war. We’re not in recession, and the COVID emergency is over.”

The congressman said that the situation “hurts” the Republican Party overall and that “the chaos that is being created makes it look like Republicans can’t govern.”

“But the fact is 100 percent of the Democrats are voting with two to two and a half percent of the Republicans to create the chaos,” the lawmaker said. He told Fox News Digital that Republicans had expected “tough negotiations” but hadn’t expected that the push “would be as difficult as it has been.”

The lawmaker added that he does not object to tough negotiations to reduce federal spending, but he said that some of the holdouts look like they’re engaging in “self-gratification.”

The way forward, he said, is a continuing resolution with border provisions.

“You’ve got mayors of sanctuary cities [who] are saying that we need to close the border. The right thing to do is to put a 30-day continuing resolution on the floor that includes the majority of the elements of H.R. 2 and shut that border down.”

“This madness has to stop, and the American citizens are with [us on that,]” he added.

“If the Democrats won’t accept that, then that’s proof that the Democrats want to shut down the country and not shut down the border,” the lawmaker said. “It’s very simple.”

Another GOP congressman told Fox News Digital that he expects a bill to pass next week when the House reconvenes. He noted that a split government makes funding bills “a very difficult task” and said he is “not the least bit concerned about them shutting down the government right now.”

“This is a matter within the Republican conference in the House, of us deciding which direction we want to go,” the lawmaker said. “And there are two distinct directions, because the country is so polarized, because the country has so many problems.”

The lawmaker said the defense spending bill was the GOP’s “first opportunity” to fund the military, “fixing the things which we believe are essentially readiness and lethality, and continuing to gain people who want to come in the military.”

“I combine that with the border,” the lawmaker said. “We believe that if you look across the board, that is the number-one or number-two issue.”

The lawmaker said the negotiations are “just a matter now of listening to people” and that the holdouts sat down with McCarthy over four months ago “and provided him in writing what their numbers would be, that would need to be followed in the budget line.”

“The speaker and leadership did not address that, and so that’s why this continues to be a big problem,” the lawmaker said. “And until the speaker will sit down and negotiate with them, they’re going to continue to vote no.”

The congressman said it “is relatively easy, time-wise, for the House to move its wishes through” but that the “Senate is another matter” with its procedures.

The lawmaker said there “needs to be some understanding about the longer view, not the shorter view” and that he thinks “people are becoming myopic in approaching how we actually engage with the Senate no being not just a win, but to check things off.”

The congressman also said that it is “very plain” to him that McCarthy “is going to have to make a decision.”

“Sounds like he’s going down that pathway to get this funding done,” the lawmaker said. “If he does not get the funding, then things do unravel.”

The congressman also noted that, as the House negotiates federal funding, the Senate saw Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., get “indicted for the second time.”

“I think the Senate is in chaos. The Senate is in chaos with having to even relax their decorum for dress,” said the congressman. “So that’s how small the United States Senate has become.”

“Between thuggery, between incompetent people, and between those who will sell state secrets for their own personal gain,” the congressman said. “That is the Democrat Party.” 

Rhiannon Ingle
Rhiannon Ingle
Journalist at the Medialinker Group


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