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USA: House conservatives in revolt against Johnson´s spending deal

Washington, Jan 10 (Prensa Latina) A band of House conservatives tanked a procedural vote Wednesday in a rebellion against the spending deal Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) struck with Democrats, which members of the right flank have sharply criticized.

Thirteen Republicans joined with Democrats to vote against the rule for a trio of bills, preventing the chamber from debating and voting on the measures — which are unrelated to spending.

Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah), the vice chair of the House GOP conference, changed his vote to oppose the rule shortly before the vote closed, a move that allows him to bring up the rule for another vote at a later time.

The final tally was 203-216. Republican leadership canceled an afternoon vote series following the revolt.

The show of opposition came days after Johnson unveiled a deal on top-line spending numbers for the remainder of fiscal 2024. Conservatives have railed against the deal for not cutting spending enough.

Congress is staring down Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 shutdown deadlines.

The agreement — which is largely in line with the caps set in the debt limit deal then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) struck with President Biden last year — includes a $1.59 trillion top line, plus roughly $69 billion in budget tweaks to increase nondefense dollars for most of fiscal 2024.

“We’re making a statement that what the deal, as has been announced, that doesn’t secure the border and that doesn’t cut our spending, and that’s gonna be passed apparently under suspension of the rules with predominantly Democrat votes is unacceptable,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), the newly minted chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters.

Republican Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Good, Chip Roy (Texas), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Scott Perry (Pa.), Eric Burlison (Mo.) and Andy Ogles (Tenn.) opposed the procedural vote.

Votes on rules — which outline parameters for debate — are typically mundane efforts, with the majority party supporting the vote and the minority party opposing it. But conservatives this Congress have utilized the tactic of torpedoing rules to showcase their frustration with various leadership decisions.

Asked if conservatives will continue to tank rules as a sign of opposition against Johnson’s spending deal, Good said, “My hope is to persuade the Speaker and the leadership and the entire Republican conference to not follow through with the deal as it’s been announced.”

Johnson, however, expressed confidence that the deal would remain intact after the rule failed.

“It’s gonna survive,” Johnson said during an interview on Fox News Channel. “What I’ve told Ralph Norman and Chip Roy, who are my close friends, I’m also a conservative hardliner, that’s been my entire career in Congress and all of my years as a legislator. Cutting spending, this is a big priority for us, the Republican Party.”

“What we negotiated in the topline agreement for the appropriations going forward is an innovation,” he continued. “We’re trying to get back to 12 appropriations bills instead of ruling and governing by omnibus spending bills. We’ve done that, we achieved that at the end of last year and now we have to get into the individual spending bills.”

The next step, he said, is fighting to get conservative policy riders in the appropriations bills.

The Speaker also addressed criticism from the right flank that the spending deal does not go far enough, pointing to the slim GOP majority in the House and the reality of having a divided Washington.

“Chip and Ralph and others are frustrated it doesn’t go far enough, I’m frustrated too, but remember we have a two-vote margin and only one chamber, only in the House is where we have the majority,” he said. “And so we have to work with the numbers we have and get the best we can.”