At the height of President Kevin McCarthy’s search for office in January, Texas Republican Congressman Chip Roy went from meeting to meeting making sure the hard-line conservatives got what they wanted before agreeing to back the Republican of California.
One by one, nearly all of their demands were met in what Mr. Roy would later term a « power-sharing » agreement between Mr. McCarthy and his right flank. The far right won three seats on the influential House Rules Committee (one went to Mr. Roy); a pledge from McCarthy that Republicans would never raise the debt ceiling without deep spending cuts; and a rule that allows any legislator to force a vote to oust the speaker if he fails to keep his promises.
Now, Mr. Roy, 50, the political chairman of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus who has emerged as the far-right’s spending expert, is accusing Mr McCarthy of reneging on the deal and attempting to re-exercise its influence – this time with potentially disastrous consequences. He and his allies are attempting to tear down the deal McCarthy struck with President Biden to suspend the debt ceiling just days before the country is headed for default.
If not, he said, the House Freedom Caucus may have to confront Mr. McCarthy yet again. Several members floated the idea of calling for Mr McCarthy’s removal.
« If we can’t kill him, we’re going to have to regroup and figure out the whole leadership arrangement again, » Mr. Roy told Glenn Beck’s radio show on Tuesday.
This is a far cry from the position Mr. Roy found himself in just a few weeks ago, when he worked alongside GOP House leaders to secure passage of a much more conservative debt limit bill, which would have raised the limit the loan only in exchange for substantial spending cuts. Rep. Garret Graves, a Louisiana Republican and McCarthy ally, said he earned respect for Roy by working closely with him on that package.
“I didn’t have an incredibly high opinion of Rep. Chip Roy. He is now one of my best friends,” Mr. Graves said.
Now, Mr. Roy, who is a mix of legislative zealot and firebrand, has been circulating documents analyzing all the different ways he believes Mr. McCarthy’s 99-page debt limit agreement is, in his words, a « betrayal » of the Conservatives. In an easy-to-digest format, they illustrate — step by step — how McCarthy’s deal with Biden falls short of conservative demands to curb spending, streamline energy project permits, and enforce stringent labor requirements for safety. social net benefits.
He and his allies view the $31.5 trillion national debt as a greater threat to America than the Treasury Department’s warning that the country could default on some bills by June 5.
« No Republican should vote for this deal, » Roy said at a Freedom Caucus press conference on Tuesday, hours before breaking with his party to try to block the measure from the floor in a vote in the House Rules committee. . . The effort failed; just one other Republican joined him in opposing a step to bring the deal to a grassroots vote Wednesday.
However, the « no » votes against the legislation are starting to pile up. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 30 House Republicans had spoken out against it.
« Bill is awful for America, » said Congressman Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana.
Mr. McCarthy and his leadership team have worked hard to bolster support, distributing their own charts and graphs urging spending cuts. The bill appeared on track to pass Wednesday, with a sizable number of Democratic votes to make up for GOP defections.
But Mr Roy’s graphs are fueling the arguments of other Conservatives as they fight the legislation. Last month he distributed a four-page memo of talking points to other Republicans as negotiations progressed. So he released two charts outlining what he called the deal’s failures.
Mr. Roy « gives the most succinct summary I’ve seen regarding the problems with the debt ceiling agreement, » Senator Mike Lee, a Republican of Utah, who pledged to delay a Senate vote on the bill, he wrote on Twitter.
Born in Bethesda, Md., Roy was raised in the Washington area. His father worked for the IRS and received a law degree from the University of Virginia (football players Tiki and Ronde Barber, whom he befriended there, attended his wedding). But he learned hardball politics in Texas. He served as Senator Ted Cruz’s chief of staff and in many ways mirrors the combative and long-winded style of his former boss.
But unlike many members of the Freedom Caucus, he’s not an acolyte of former President Donald J. Trump. He voted to certify Biden’s victory and endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president.
Mr. Roy likes to quote a scene from the movie « Braveheart » when describing what the Conservatives’ approach to limiting debt should be. It’s one where the Scottish freedom fighters have formed a tense line and their leader, William Wallace, repeatedly orders, « Wait! » before launching a unified spear attack against the British.
« My position is: hold the damn line, » he says.
Mr. Roy said one of Mr. McCarthy’s concessions to the far right was a promise that nothing would come out of the Rules Committee without the support of all nine Republicans on the panel. Republicans split on Tuesday on the debt ceiling package, which advanced by a 7-to-6 vote, with Mr. Roy and Rep. Ralph Norman, a Republican from South Carolina, joining Democrats in voting against it. the measure.
Mr. Roy has repeatedly stated that he feels betrayed by Mr. McCarthy.
« I think that’s going to be a problem for him, » Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican, said of Mr. McCarthy’s push to pass the debt ceiling deal. « They’re hemorrhaging. »
He said he believed a move to oust Mr. McCarthy could be in the works if the speaker advances the bill without a Republican majority. Mr. Buck said he could see the number of Republicans opposing the bill rise to more than 100 as lawmakers learn more about its contents.
Democrats believe Roy’s tactics put the country at risk.
« This represents an all-time high in recklessness and stupidity, » Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said of Republican efforts to use the debt ceiling as leverage. He added, « The Democrats had to be the adults in the room. »