WASHINGTON — With the lifting of Title 42, House conservatives argue the situation at the border is an emergency and mount a last-minute push to include the recently passed Republican border bill in debt ceiling talks. .
A GOP aide said conservatives believe Republicans are already reaching a compromise in negotiating spending limits and that there should be room for more negotiations given the importance of the border issue. The source described the group as «making a lot of noise about it.»
On Thursday morning, members of the conservative Republican Study Committee sent a letter to congressional leaders, President Joe Biden, and negotiators for both sides, including Rep. Garrett Graves, R-Los Angeles, Shalanda Young, chief of the Office of Management and Budget, and senior White House aide Steve Ricchetti, calling for the border to be included in the negotiations. Rep. Chip Roy, one of the signatories, said last week that this should be on the table.
What’s unclear is whether his insistence that the border be included in the talks could build enough opposition to scuttle a deal or jeopardize McCarthy’s standing as a speaker.
McCarthy has managed to keep his caucus on board, but risks a riot at any moment. If he tries to pass a debt deal that relies on Democratic votes to clear the House, he will raise questions about whether his far-right caucus faction will rebel. But if he hopes to pass it with only Republican votes, he may have to give in to efforts to start including issues like the border.
In order to become a speaker, McCarthy agreed to a few rule changes, including allowing only one member of the House to force a vote to remove him.
The GOP’s insistence on adding border legislation would complicate already tense negotiations over how to avoid a debt default. The White House opposes the border measure and has threatened to veto it. House Democrats voted unanimously against it, calling it a “Children Deportation Act” and calling it an “extreme MAGA” law. He has no prospect of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georg., a key McCarthy ally and member of the Freedom Caucus, said she is not demanding that the Republican border bill be included in a debt deal, but said it should be discussed as part of bipartisan talks. .
«It’s not a red line for me, it’s just something that I think should be involved in the negotiations, and a lot of other Republican members have said the same thing,» Greene said in an interview Thursday.
“The situation at our border and basically our national security crisis has become such a major issue…and with 300 Americans being killed every day with fentanyl…I think it’s so bad that I filed articles of impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas and President Biden.”
McCarthy was optimistic Thursday that negotiators are headed for a deal.
«We haven’t agreed on anything yet, but I see the way in which we could reach an agreement,» he said.
Conservative Republicans are already concerned that McCarthy won’t push enough spending cuts.
A source who spoke to people at the negotiation said the biggest points currently being debated are budget caps, including whether to cap spending at 2022 or 2023 levels, followed by job requirements.
Conservatives are pressuring McCarthy to hold a firm line on budget limits and not cave in to Biden, exposing a tension within the Republican caucus that has been held at bay since he was able to win the speaker’s gavel in January.
An outside adviser to McCarthy says the speaker believes it «isn’t hard to come to an agreement» on spending limits, unspent Covid funds and changes to environmental permitting rules.
One hawkish Republican privately shared concerns that McCarthy is willing to compromise to reach a deal with Biden that does not make deep enough spending cuts.
Some hardline Republicans warn they will make no compromises on the House bill and predict the Democratic-led Senate will back down.
«This is he bill,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va. “The Senate and the White House literally have no choice. And if the Chamber does nothing? What will happen: the Senate will pass the bill, the White House will sign it. Why would we do anything else?»
«What choice would they have?» he continued. “The Senate will relent and pass our bill.”