McCarthy faces GOP blowback after N.Y. Times leak
Some angry GOP lawmakers warn that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's position could be on rocky ground after a report he blamed members of his leadership team for Republicans' chaos over the budget.
Why it matters: Multiple House Republicans argued McCarthy’s criticism of Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Budget Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) undermines their messaging and opens the floodgates for public infighting earlier than necessary.
- McCarthy told colleagues he lacks confidence that Arrington can deliver a budget proposal, according to an explosive New York Times article published Thursday.
- The California Republican also reportedly told allies he views Scalise as “ineffective” and unwilling to take hard positions.
- McCarthy didn’t deny conversations with allies disparaging two of his top deputies, but said he rejects the idea of splits existing among leadership.
Between the lines: House conservatives say they aren’t ready to pull the trigger on a motion to vacate that could oust McCarthy as speaker.
- But this has ramped up the level of conversations.
What they’re saying: A GOP lawmaker accused McCarthy of using Scalise and Arrington as scapegoats before budget and debt ceiling negotiations have fully imploded.
- “The members I've spoken with are just stunned by his rebuking of his budget chair, and certainly of our leadership,” another House Republican told Axios.
- “I can't imagine [he will last an entire term].”
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) – one of McCarthy’s 20 defectors who sits on the Budget Committee — blasted the infighting and called for McCarthy to take a larger role.
- “The agreements made by Speaker McCarthy, among other things, is to begin the ten year balanced budget NOW and with his initiatives & directives, it’s HIS responsibility to get the 218 votes to ensure our nation’s financial security JUST AS HE DID IN SECURING THE 218 votes for speaker.”
Behind the scenes: The report has reopened old wounds between McCarthy and Scalise — who was previously seen as a rival and potential speaker contender if the California Republican failed to obtain the gavel.
- Others complained that the attacks undermine their messaging on their legislative accomplishments as the party looks to demonstrate they have governed in a narrow majority.
The bottom line: Arrington and Scalise opted against publicly criticizing the California Republican, with Arrington telling Axios in an exclusive statement:
- “Our nation is staring down the barrel of a debt crisis and my budget committee colleagues and I are focused on one thing: passing a budget that will stop this reckless spending and restore fiscal sanity in Washington before it’s too late."