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McCarthy strikes temporary deal with conservative rebels, ending blockade on House floor

A group of conservatives who prevented the House from voting on a series of bills last week warned that they could bring the chamber to a halt again if spending isn't cut further.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., in the House Chamber on Jan. 6, 2023.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., in the House Chamber on Jan. 6.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., struck a temporary deal with a band of 11 conservative rebels Monday, ending a nearly weeklong blockade of the House floor and paving the way for votes this week on a handful of GOP messaging bills.

The agreement was announced after a meeting between McCarthy and some of the rabble-rousers who last week joined Democrats in voting no on a rule vote — a rare move that blocked a package of GOP bills from advancing on the floor and prompted leadership to send lawmakers home for the week.

Emerging from McCarthy’s office Monday, Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., confirmed that the gang of 11 would now vote yes on a new rule that will allow the package of messaging bills — two to protect gas stoves, another regulatory bill and a fourth to protect pistol stabilizing braces — to come to the floor later this week. None of the bills are likely to pass the Senate.

“We aired our issues. We want to see this move forward as a body,” said Norman, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

"The floor will be functioning this week," added Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., one of the conservative ringleaders.

But Norman, Gaetz and others said the group is still concerned about the debt ceiling deal McCarthy cut with President Joe Biden and warned that they could gum up other GOP bills if spending isn’t cut further in the upcoming appropriations process.

“We’re concerned about the economic security of this country. And to that end, we will work,” Norman continued. “If we don’t have that, there’s gonna be fights. There’s a lot more fights down the road.”

Other conservatives said there also are ongoing talks with McCarthy over how to regain trust between the speaker, his leadership team and conservatives.

"There's a larger discussion about how we sort of rebuild the conservative coalition within the Republican Party so that we can restore the unity that we had before the debt limit increase," said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., one of the 11 who voted against last week's rule.

Gaetz, a fierce McCarthy critic, said the "power-sharing agreement" that McCarthy negotiated with conservatives to win the speaker's gavel in January "must be renegotiated."

"He understood that and we understood that," Gaetz added, "and it has to be renegotiated in a way so that what happened on this debt limit vote would never happen again, where House conservatives would be left as the less desirable coalition partner than Democrats."

"If there's not a renegotiated power-sharing agreement," Gaetz warned, "then perhaps we'll be back here next week."