After a New York Times article detailing how Kevin McCarthy’s (R., Calif.) highly contested speakership struggle has weakened his confidence in colleagues, long-simmering tensions among House Republicans bubbled up once more over the weekend.
The speaker is said to be particularly irritated by some Republicans, including Jodey Arrington (R., Texas), the chairman of the budget committee, and Steve Scalise (R., Louisiana), the House majority leader. It took McCarthy an unprecedented 15 ballots to win the position through January’s chaos and infighting.
According to Jonathan Swan and Annie Karni in the Times, “Mr. McCarthy has told colleagues he has no confidence in Mr. Arrington, the man responsible for delivering a budget framework outlining the spending cuts that Republicans have said they will demand in exchange for any move to increase the debt limit.” According to more than half a dozen people familiar with his thinking, McCarthy continues to view Arrington, who attempted to nominate Scalise during the speakership voting, “as incompetent,” the Times reported.
The disclosures, in turn, seem to have done little but further sour ties between McCarthy and some conference attendees.
Unnamed House Republican told Axios on Saturday, “The members I’ve spoken with are just stunned by his rebuking of his budget chair, and certainly of our leadership.” The lawmaker expressed skepticism that McCarthy would complete the entirety of his time as speaker. I’m at a loss for words.
McCarthy is under pressure from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) to mend fences with members and uphold their agreements. According to Norman, “the agreements made by Speaker McCarthy, among other things, are to start the ten-year balanced budget NOW and with his initiatives & directives, it’s HIS responsibility to get the 218 votes to ensure our country’s financial security JUST AS HE DID IN SECURING THE 218 votes FOR SPEAKER.” Unidentified Republican #2 concurred.
Senior House Republican: “He made a bunch of promises during the speaker race that were always untenable, but he made them anyway.” “A lot of that stuff is going to collide at some point, and he’s getting anxious and looking for people to blame.”
Scalise and Arrington both declined to comment, although the latter sent Axios a formal statement about the urgent job the Budget Committee is now doing and the need to stay focused.
My budget committee colleagues and I are focused on enacting a budget that will stop this reckless spending and restore economic sanity in Washington before it’s too late. “Our country is staring down the barrel of a debt crisis,” they said.