President Biden is already reaching out to moderate House Republicans to get a deal on raising the debt ceiling, but if the far right doesn’t get the standoff that they crave it could be curtains for Kevin McCarthy.
The White House is already working behind the scenes to work around Speaker Kevin McCarthy, including dispatching its top advisers to meet with moderate Republicans — particularly those who won in districts President Joe Biden won in 2020 — in hopes Democrats can count on those GOP lawmakers to cross the aisle and lift the debt ceiling.
“I think there is a real chance of that,” said one senior House Republican. “Kevin would probably love for that to happen because it gets him out of — ‘it wasn’t me.’”
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Since House Republicans have only a four-seat majority, Biden could negotiate a debt ceiling deal with moderate Republicans in districts that the president won in 2020. If Biden got five moderates, House Democrats would be able to use a discharge petition to force a vote on raising the debt ceiling. If the bill passed the House, McCarthy and the far right would be defeated, and a crisis avoided.
The worst-case scenario for McCarthy is that the far right doesn’t believe that it wasn’t him, or that he couldn’t stop Biden from working around him, and then bring up a motion to vacate that ends his speakership.
The White House doesn’t need to negotiate with McCarthy if they can go around him.
The right has had the debt ceiling circled as their moment of big confrontation with Biden. If they don’t get the showdown and spending cuts that they crave, the fringe of the GOP House caucus will grow angry and McCarthy is likely to be the one to pay the price.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association