The tidal wave has not subsided in the Republican group of the House of Representatives. The most radical congressmen felt betrayed by the pact of the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, with that of the United States, Joe Biden, to suspend the debt ceiling until 2025 in exchange for cuts in public spending that they consider insignificant. In revenge for this agreement that left them on the sidelines and as a show of force and measure of pressure, the members of the hard wing have decided to paralyze the normal functioning of parliamentary activity.
The group of recalcitrant rebels is just over a dozen and correspond largely to those who put McCarthy through an ordeal of up to 15 votes until he was elected speaker. They cast their votes, but demanded in return concessions that have not been fulfilled. Now they say they want a "monogamy" relationship, as Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has said.
It is not worth them that McCarthy understands with them most of the time, but then has in parallel a relationship with Biden in which they stay on the sidelines. "There was an agreement in January. And it's been violated in the debt ceiling law," said Colorado Rep. Ken Buck.
McCarthy himself has acknowledged that the situation has become "a bit chaotic". The most radical Republicans have voted to paralyze the processing of some bills. They have voted on the same side as the Democrats and that has meant paralyzing activity. What are normally routine votes have suddenly become major political battles.
After one of those stormy sessions, Gaetz explained his position: "We took a stand in January to end the era of the imperial spokesperson, and we are concerned that the fundamental commitments that allowed Kevin McCarthy to assume the spokesperson have been violated as a result of the debt limit agreement," he said.
The position of the speaker of the House of Representatives is that the agreements that allowed him to be elected set objectives, but not closed commitments or guaranteed results. The current plan of the radical congressmen is not only a rhetorical exercise, but may imply serious consequences for the approval of the budget items for next year. McCarthy may be forced to choose between fulfilling the agreement with Biden or repairing the relationship with his own, and risk a shutdown of some of the federal government's activity.
Many of the rebels see the pact between McCarthy and Biden as an example of the policies they detest of Washington, which they call the swamp, for being built partly on muddy areas (particularly the area at the foot of the Capitol) and partly because of those machinations of the politics of the federal capital.
"Last week's debt ceiling agreement was negotiated behind closed doors and showed the swamp in all its glory. In January we fought the battle to restore regular order by fighting for changes that would allow each Member to better represent his constituents. I will NOT stand idly by and allow Congress to get back on track," Matt Rosendale, one of the rebels, tweeted this week.
Lauren Boebert, also a member of the group, said: "The American people did not elect a Republican majority to vote on bills that will never pass the Senate or become law. We were elected to drain the swamp, hold Biden accountable, and make real changes in the way things are done. It's time to keep our promises."
The rebels are members of the Freedom Caucus, an ultraconservative group of congressmen, who have already clearly warned against the debt ceiling pact. The Republican congressional group, Chip Roy said after the agreement was announced, "has broken into pieces." "We're working hard to try to put it back together, making sure this bill stops. I want to be very clear: Not a single Republican should vote for this deal," he said before it was put to a vote.
Andy Biggs, Dan Bishop, Tim Burchett, Eli Crane, Bob Good, Ralph Norman and Chip Roy are also among the rebels. McCarthy has been optimistic. "I didn't take this job because it was easy. We will overcome it and we will even be stronger," he said these days in Congress. For the time being, parliamentary activity has been paralysed until next week.
So far, the big winner of the agreement has been President Biden. He has cleared the financial picture of the remainder of his term without sacrificing his main policies and after delivering little traumatic cuts. The Treasury has resumed this week the debt placements and has been recomposing its treasury. Apparently, he has not started receiving funds until late in the week, so that 5 June was not strictly speaking the date X when he would have run out of money to meet payments. Foresighted Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had an ace up her sleeve.
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