WASHINGTON — A band of 11 House conservative rabble-rousers on Tuesday
took the rare step of joining all Democrats to block a pair of GOP bills
to protect gas stoves to express their anger over the debt deal cut by
Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.
The procedural vote was rejected, 206 to 220, stunning longtime lawmakers
and reporters who have not seen a rule vote — a procedural measure
typically widely supported by the majority party — go down in more than
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, along with a conservative ally, Rep.
Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., gathered on the steps of the Capitol after voting to
rail at how McCarthy and his leadership team handled negotiations to lift
the debt ceiling.
The group warned that all Republican legislation could come to a
standstill unless they resolve their internal issues.
Hard-right lawmakers specifically accused GOP leaders of retaliating
against one of their own, Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga. They said Clyde was
told by leadership that his bill to protect pistol stabilizing braces
would not come to the floor this week because he voted against the rule on
the debt deal last week.
“Today we took down the rule because we’re frustrated at the way this
place is operating. We took a stand in January to end the era of the
imperial speakership,” Gaetz said, flanked by his far-right allies.
“We’re concerned that the fundamental commitments that allowed Kevin
McCarthy to assume the speakership have been violated as a consequence of
the debt limit deal,” he added. “The answer for us is to reassert House conservatives as the appropriate coalition partner for our leadership,
instead of them making common cause with Democrats.”
Tuesday’s rule fight creates more headaches for McCarthy — and raises more uncertainty about his political future, less than six months into his speakership.
After the bipartisan debt deal passed last week, some Freedom Caucus
members said they would support ousting McCarthy from the speaker’s office through what's known as a “motion to vacate.” But on Tuesday, some of
those same Republicans sidestepped questions about removing McCarthy and
said they have other tools to flex their power, including blocking
legislation by voting down future rules.
“There are many, many ways in which we all need to be together for the Republican majority to be able to function effectively,” said Rep. Dan
Bishop, R-N.C., a Freedom Caucus member.
Shortly before conservatives shot down Tuesday's rule vote, McCarthy told reporters he is confident he would overcome an effort to oust him from
"Anybody can do a motion to vacate," he said. "I'm confident I'll beat
anyone they have."
The 11 Republicans who voted against Tuesday's rule for the gas stoves legislation and other GOP bills are: Gaetz and Bishop; and Reps. Chip Roy
of Texas; Matt Rosendale of Montana; Ken Buck and Lauren Boebert, both of Colorado; Eli Crane and Andy Biggs, both of Arizona; Tim Burchett of
Tennessee; Ralph Norman of South Carolina; and Bob Good of Virginia.
A 12th Republican, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., also voted no, a procedural step that would allow leaders to bring the rule to the floor at
a later date.
Boebert had complained that leadership did not allow votes on amendments
to the debt-ceiling package, while others were bitter that more Democrats
voted for the debt limit package than Republicans.
“The majority cannot function without unity,” Bishop told reporters. “And
so to pull a pin on the grenade and roll it under the tent of Republican
unity, as was done … last week in the debt ceiling package, is untenable
Before the vote was closed, Scalise and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn.,
were spotted huddling on the floor with Gaetz, Roy and Burchett as they
tried to make a last-ditch attempt to salvage the bills. Walking off the
floor, Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, appeared
downright giddy at the GOP dysfunction.
After Tuesday’s debacle, Clyde tweeted that he had received a commitment
from leadership that his pistol braces bill would receive a vote next
week. And shortly after, Scalise told reporters there would be votes held
Meanwhile, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who helped negotiate the debt
deal, argued that the GOP blowup "isn't about a person" — McCarthy — but a process.
"Not everything is embodied in the speakership," said McHenry, a close
McCarthy ally. "We have a House majority. We're trying to resolve internal tensions within the House Republicans, and from time to time you have to
have an airing within your family, and that's what happened today."
The gas stove bills set to be voted on this week were largely messaging
bills and are unlikely to pass the Senate.