Elected in pain, Kevin McCarthy faces his first test on Monday as leader of the House of Representatives and the opposition to President Joe Biden, in a vote that risks widening divisions within the Republican Party.
• Read also: McCarthy elected “speaker” in the American Congress, but weakened by the sling of Republicans
• Read also: Kevin McCarthy finally wins the presidency after 15 rounds of voting
• Read also: A crazy week in the United States Congress
The lower house of the US Congress, which narrowly swung into the Republican hands in the midterm elections, meets at 5 p.m. to adopt the operating rules that will frame its action over the next two years.
This protocol debate usually arouses little interest, but it comes after a week of great chaos: a handful of elected Trumpists blocked Kevin McCarthy’s accession to the perch for four days, which was not arrived for more than 160 years.
To win the post of president – the third in the protocol order after the president and the vice-president – the elected representative of California acceded to some of their requests, in particular on the rules debated on Monday.
These concessions, which allowed him to be elected in the 15th round of voting, are now causing cringe among moderate Republicans who could in turn defect.
“We have no idea of the promises that have been made (…) and it hurts my heart,” elected official Nancy Mace told CBS on Sunday, blaming the party’s right wing for to have made “backstage deals”.
To appease this right wing, hostile to a spending state, Kevin McCarthy has pledged, according to the American media, to include in the “rules” of the House that each new expenditure will have to be financed by a cut elsewhere in the budget.
He also accepted the end of the huge finance laws bringing together all kinds of expenditure, and to organize separate votes on each aspect (military, internal security, agriculture, etc.).
“Americans are fed up with these Christmas tree-like finance laws that arrive, in the middle of the night, with their decorations: 4000 pages, 1.7 billion dollars, 7200 allocations of funds …”, justified Scott Perry, one of the dissidents, in reference to the last budget bill passed in December in Congress.
Kevin McCarthy also seems to have promised a 10% reduction in military spending, at the risk of clashing with his camp.
“There has been a proposal to cut billions of dollars from the defense budget, I think that’s a horrible idea,” Republican lawmaker Tony Gonzales commented on CBS. “I will vote against.”
“With the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the growing Chinese threat in the Pacific (…), how are we going to be able to look our allies in the eye and ask them to increase their military budget if America reduces theirs? “, he explained.
Especially since these cuts could weigh on aid in kyiv.
“Everything is on the table,” admitted Jim Jordan, a loyal lieutenant of ex-President Donald Trump and rallied to Kevin McCarthy. “Frankly, we have to look at the money being sent to Ukraine and wonder if there’s a better way to protect America.”
The scope of these measures, however, is largely symbolic: laws passed in the House have no chance of being passed in the Senate, of which the Democrats retain control.
More delicate for President Biden, Kevin McCarthy has promised to authorize the launch of a commission of inquiry into the “instrumentalization” by the Democrats of the Department of Justice. A way to denigrate the investigations targeting Donald Trump and the participants in the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol.
But he also weakened his own position, by allowing only one elected representative to claim a vote of confidence in the president, compared to five today.
Although some provisions raise eyebrows among moderates, Republican Party strategists hope there will be no more than four defections and the rules will pass late Monday.
Leave a Reply