The House of Representatives will try to return to work Monday after a group of Republicans brought legislative proceedings to a grinding halt and forced Speaker Kevin McCarthy to call an early recess in the middle of last week.
A group of 11 conservatives, furious with how McCarthy, R-Calif., handled debt limit negotiations with President Biden, upended a normally sleepy procedural vote on Tuesday and blocked Republican bills aimed at protecting gas stoves. It was the first time in two decades that a majority party watched its own members vote with the minority to defeat a bill at that procedural stage.
One GOP lawmaker told Fox News Digital on Monday morning that he did not hear from McCarthy over the weekend, but noted the speaker was likely traveling.
“Our concerns over spending remain unresolved,” the GOP lawmaker told Fox News Digital Monday morning.
That lawmaker said conservatives are seeking two key assurances from McCarthy in the upcoming appropriations process, when the House Committee on Appropriations will consider 12 separate spending bills for the next fiscal year. One is a promise to cap federal spending at fiscal year 2022 levels, which is below the limit agreed upon by McCarthy and Biden in the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act.
A 2022 spending cap was the GOP’s original goal when it passed its first debt limit bill, the Limit, Save, Grow Act, along party lines in April. Several conservatives staging the blockade, who also voted against the bipartisan compromise, indicated that they view anything less than the GOP bill as a loss.
GOP rebels also want a commitment to stop spending on programs whose authorization has run out, a point Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., reiterated over the weekend.
“We have 11,118 programs, OK, 11,118 programs that are unauthorized in the federal government… It means when they passed a program like the Endangered Species Act of 1973, it had a five-year sunset on it. It went down, finished, over in five years unless it was reauthorized. So in 1978, it was reauthorized. It has not been reauthorized since, and every year we increase the spending to the Endangered Species Act,” Buck explained in a speech over the weekend.
“We have a House rule that we pass every Congress, Republicans and Democrats, you can’t appropriate money to an unauthorized program… We waive that rule in every appropriations bill,” he said.
House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., told Fox News Digital last week that rebels were seeking written assurances from McCarthy that conservatives would get more of a voice in the legislative process. Cline also voted against the debt limit bill but did not participate in last week’s legislative blockade.
When lodging their protest last week, the 11 lawmakers also accused GOP leadership of threatening Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., by blocking his pro-Second Amendment legislation from the House floor because of his earlier efforts to take down the debt limit bill. Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., denied GOP leaders made that move and insisted that Clyde was informed his bill may not have the votes to pass.
Lawmakers are now set to consider the bill on Tuesday, which is aimed at rolling back a Biden administration rule on pistol braces. The House Rules Committee was set to meet Monday to prepare that bill for the House floor.
In a sign of optimism on Sunday night, Scalise’s office indicated that the two gas stove bills derailed last week would be back on the House floor for a vote sometime in the coming days.
But House leaders signaled they were not taking any chances too early in the week. They scheduled a round of uncontroversial and bipartisan votes for Monday night, including a resolution to condemn Russia’s detention of Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich.
McCarthy appeared on “Sunday Night in America” with Trey Gowdy and re-upped calls for unity while downplaying the Freedom Caucus’ role in the rebellion.
“Anybody in the conference can do this to one another, and that’s not a good place to be,” he said. “So hopefully we were able to work this out, move forward and really come back with a lot of that conservative agenda that we’ve been very successful [with].”