(Bloomberg) -- A blockade against legislation by House Republican hard-liners dragged on for a second day Wednesday, underscoring a rift with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy following his backing of a compromise to avert a catastrophic US debt default.
The action demonstrates a small band of ultra-conservatives’ capacity to grind the chamber to a halt even if holding off, for now, a push for McCarthy’s ouster. It also diminishes hopes that the debt-limit deal might be a template for more legislation drawing together both parties’ moderate wings.
Tuesday marked the first time in more than two decades a speaker had been unable to muster the votes for a procedural step to begin debate on a bill on the House floor, according to C-Span. With the 11 GOP defections, and Democrats also voting against the procedural measure to advance bills, it failed on a 206-220 vote.
McCarthy, a California Republican, projected his customary optimism Wednesday morning, predicting that the two sides would resolve their differences quickly. But he showed flashes of frustration and admitted the protest took him by surprise.
Earlier: GOP Hard-Liners Halt House Business in Warning to McCarthy
“I feel blindsided,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday morning, shortly after a second day of meetings with party dissidents.
“Five people can create problems,” he added. But, “You’re not going to get 100% of what you want — so you can’t take hostages.”
The narrow 222-212 House GOP majority McCarthy oversees enables as few as five Republican lawmakers to sabotage a measure on a party-line vote.
Some of the 11 conservatives who banded together to instigate the stoppage suggested they didn’t share McCarthy’s confidence of a quick fix.
“There’s nothing that has been resolved as of yet,” Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee said.
Representative Scott Perry, the chairman of a group of far-right conservatives who call themselves the House Freedom Caucus, was scheduled to meet with McCarthy Wednesday afternoon on grievances and demands, Representative Ken Buck, of Colorado, said.
Buck and others declined to share a full list of their grievances. But they asserted McCarthy’s debt-limit deal with President Joe Biden broke promises he made to them for lower spending caps, though McCarthy disputes that he broke any pledge.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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