UPDATE: Joan McCarter
All the supposed moderates among the House Republicans just capitulated, voting yes on what is the Freedom Caucus plan to destroy the economy. It passed 217-215, with four extreme hard right Republicans voting against it.
On Monday, Barely Speaker Kevin McCarthy and team vowed there would be no changes to the debt ceiling and spending cuts package before it came to the floor this week. But in the very early hours of Wednesday, the Rules Committee made changes to the bill that McCarthy and his team spent hours negotiating with holdouts behind closed doors.
So much for McCarthy’s promise to the American people when he finally won the speakership after five grueling days of votes. “No longer will the doors be closed, but the debates will be open for you to witness what happens in the people’s House. From the committee rooms to this floor, we commit to pursue the truth passionately and embrace debate.”
McCarthy bowed to pressure from the very hard right, as usual, and made the package more cruel to low-income people with stricter work requirements for safety net programs. He caved to a group of farm-state Republicans, and removed the part of the bill that repealed ethanol and biofuel tax credits.
Whether that’s enough to pass the bill still isn’t clear. Simple numbers alone are against McCarthy; he can only afford to lose four votes. No Democrat will vote for the package that couples drastic spending cuts with lifting the debt ceiling. One Republican member is out all week, and another will be absent on Thursday. That makes the timing of the vote tricky—that is, if it’s going to happen this week.
Technically, the bill could be ready for the floor Wednesday, now that the Rules Committee has passed it. That doesn’t mean it will, because there are still a handful of members who either say they’re leaning no, like South Carolina’s Nancy Mace who has multiple issues. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida says he’s still undecided. A few swing district freshmen members—Reps. John James from Michigan, Marcus Molinaro from New York, and Jen Kiggans from Virginia—aren’t saying how they’ll vote.
In meetings throughout the day and evening on Tuesday, McCarthy told members that he was not going to make any changes to the bill. He probably thought he didn’t have to because he had co-opted problematic Freedom Caucus maniac Chip Roy by basically giving him everything the group wanted. He also put Roy and his fellow bomb-throwing friend Rep. Tom Massie on the Rules Committee–two of the loudest yellers about “regular order” and closed-door bill writing by leadership. Now they’re part of leadership, so clearly that doesn’t matter any more. They were instrumental in the middle-of-the-night, closed door proceedings that amended the bill.
Could the bill be on the floor before the end of Wednesday? Technically: Yes. Is it going to pass by the end of Wednesday (or Thursday, or Friday?) is a better question. McCarthy might be facing a fight that rivals his own five-day, 15-ballot bid to be speaker on this one.
America could learn a lot from how other countries elect their leaders! Political science professor Matthew Shugart joins us on this week's episode of “The Downballot” to explain how a variety of electoral systems around the world operate, as well as his thoughts on which might work well here—and actually improve our democracy. Shugart gets into the weeds on proportional voting, single transferable vote, "decoy lists," and much more. If those terms are new to you, you'll definitely want to listen!