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Freedom Caucusers Work to Sink Budget Deal

Predictably, the Freedom Caucus didn't get much of what it wanted out of the debt-ceiling hostage situation. Equally predictably, they are furious. And at least one of them, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), is working to burn the whole thing down.

Roy claims that, when Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was negotiating for the Speaker's gavel, it was agreed that no bills would be sent to the floor of the House without the support of all nine Republicans on the House Rules Committee (Roy is one of the nine). Other folks who were privy to the negotiations say the number was seven of nine rather than nine of nine (are they fans of Star Trek: Voyager?). Still others say that none of this was written down and, in the House, if something's not written down it doesn't exist.

All of this squabbling brings up multiple questions:

  1. Is the deal really nine of nine?

  2. If it's actually seven of nine, are there seven Republican votes on the committee to approve the bill? Roy has the backing of Ralph Norman (R-SC), while the swing vote is Thomas Massie (R-KY), who has yet to take a public position on the agreement.

  3. If push comes to shove, would McCarthy abide by whatever agreement he made, or not?

Presumably, these questions will be answered in the next 24 hours or so, since McCarthy has said he wants to bring the bill to a vote tomorrow.

Whatever happens, however, is there any way the Freedom Caucus doesn't end up as the loser here? When it comes to the debt-ceiling bill, we have to imagine it will become law. In that case, the Caucus gets almost nothing, and ends up with egg on its face. Alternatively, it is possible that Roy & Co. manage to sink the deal. In that case, the deadline will be imminent, the President will have tried to do things "the right way," and will have cover to resort to extraordinary measures of some sort. The one outcome that is not on the table is "Rapid reboot with new bill in which the Freedom Caucus gets everything (or most of what) it wants."

And then there is McCarthy. Once the Freedom Caucusers fail spectacularly, what will they do about him? If they don't try to toss him out on his ear, then they will look like paper tigers. If they try and fail, say because House Democrats have secretly agreed to guarantee McCarthy's speakership, then they will also look like paper tigers. If they try and succeed, it's inconceivable that any other Republican will accept the devil's bargain that McCarthy did, just so they can be speaker for a few months. No, that hypothetical next Speaker of the House would take note of the budget-ceiling bill, would notice that it's way easier to work with the 20-30 centrist Democrats as opposed to the 20-30 Freedom Caucusers, and would ignore Roy and his friends.

In any case, it should be an interesting week, as things are about to get very real in the United States House of Representatives. (Z)

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