Did Biden 'Outfox' McCarthy? Vote Count May Tell the Tale

If House speaker needs lots of Democrats to raise debt ceiling, it doesn't bode well for him
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2023 11:19 AM CDT
Did Biden 'Outfox' McCarthy? Vote Count May Tell the Tale
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., walks to his office at Capitol Hill on Tuesday in Washington, DC.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The House votes Wednesday night on a deal to avoid a potentially calamitous default, and both Republicans and Democrats say the measure will pass. But a new DC drama has emerged about what the final vote tally will be—and the ramifications for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in particular. Coverage:

  • The challenge: McCarthy will definitely need Democratic votes, because about 30 Republicans already have promised to vote against it, reports Politico. The question is how many Democrats he'll need. The speaker's team is hoping for an "overwhelming" GOP vote, "knowing that the more GOP [members] he can get, the more it will strengthen ... his heading into new governing challenges and the 2024 elections."
  • Big number: Axios sees a "magic number" for McCarthy: His "lieutenants hope to get 150 of the 222 GOP Republican House members to vote yes." The Hill lays it out simply: McCarthy "knows he'll need Democratic help to pass the measure, but the more GOP members that vote with him, the better for the [s]peaker." His very political future is "on the line."

  • Risk of failure: "If a majority of Republicans are against a piece of legislation and you use Democrats to pass it, that would immediately be a black-letter violation of the deal we had with McCarthy to allow his ascent to the speakership, and it would likely trigger an immediate motion to vacate," GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz told Newsmax. It's a reference to the reality that McCarthy remains vulnerable to being ousted from his post if he angers his conservative flank.
  • Democrats' hope: While McCarthy's team is working to beef up the GOP vote, Democratic leaders are similarly trying to get a strong vote among their own. If a strong majority of the 213 Democrats vote in favor, that "could bolster the notion held by some lawmakers in each party: that Biden outfoxed GOP negotiators," per Axios.
(Read more Kevin McCarthy stories.)

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