Speaker McCarthy has arrived. What now?

Speaker McCarthy has arrived. What now?

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The bitter battle to confirm Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as Speaker of the House is finally over and the groundwork for the 118th Congress has been laid.

But the multi-day, historically long process exposed the divisions and potential problems McCarthy and House Republicans face as they try to pass legislation, investigate and be re-elected in two years.

So what lies ahead for McCarthy, the GOP, and the Democrats?

Here are six things to keep in mind when Speaker McCarthy takes his place:

How much has the Speaker fight weakened McCarthy?

The House Freedom Caucus is in power for the first time since Democrats won the House of Representatives in 2018, and the far-right group wasted no time in asserting itself, offering an insight into the problems McCarthy will face if he recently took over the office of the weakest spokesman memory.

The hardline Conservatives’ caucus has put McCarthy between a rock and a hard seat as he tries to manage the recalcitrant group and deal with bipartisan legislation that is likely to come from the Senate – which must and will be cobbled together with 60 votes naturally more moderate.

What happens if the Senate sends a spending deal later this summer that is inconsistent with the deal McCarthy struck with House Conservatives? Will he be willing to shut down the government, which Freedom Caucus members are likely to ask of him?

How much will he be willing to fight when faced with a one-vote hurdle for an impeachment petition?

For years, McCarthy’s goal was to win the hammer. No one questions that, including his allies.

Now the essential question to consider is: How far will McCarthy go to hold the Speakership?

Whether he has cost himself a long and lengthy tenure in the position remains to be seen.

Debt limit, debt limit, debt limit

The looming effort to raise the debt ceiling will likely be the ultimate test of the coming year for the California Republican and prove crucial in determining how long his term will last.

This week’s protracted adventure of appointing a speaker is already causing some in the GOP agita over what will come when it comes time later this year to raise the nation’s credit limit — a problem the party faced in 2011, when the US credit rating was dinged for the first time in history, causing consternation.

“You’re previewing upcoming attractions,” Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) told The Hill amid a series of failed votes before a deal was reached.

The Treasury Department hasn’t said exactly when the US will hit the debt ceiling, but it’s likely to be sometime after July, according to the Federal Budget Governance Committee.

Conservatives on Friday declined to reveal details about the deal struck with leaders in recent days, but some said cuts to mandatory spending programs — like Social Security and Medicare — must be part of every package, or else.

“There won’t be a clean debt ceiling, that’s for sure,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters Friday.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a fellow campaigner until Friday, indicated they would hold McCarthy’s feet up to the fire over the cuts.

“It’s safe to say that we believe there should be specific, concrete spending limits associated with an increase in the debt ceiling,” Roy said, adding that the framework “serves as a template by which we hold it accountable.” will pull. ”

relationship with McConnell

While McCarthy deals with hardliners on a daily basis, he will also have another important relationship to manage in the coming months: one with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The two men and their management style are like oil and water. McConnell, the record-breaking GOP leader, has run his conference with a much firmer hand in recent years, a stark contrast to McCarthy, whose path to success has centered on backlash and fundraising skills rather than a solid political philosophy.

Additionally, the two have clashed over the past few months on a number of issues, from handling efforts to fund the government at the end of 2022 to dealing with former President Trump and funding Ukraine.

The newly appointed speaker also opposed a number of points that helped McConnell to marshal through the upper chamber of the 117th Congress. Leading the way were the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill — which McConnell helped announce Wednesday along with President Biden in Kentucky — gun violence legislation in response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act to boost domestic semiconductor production.

Despite this, advisors to both members have said that the two have a good, warm relationship. A GOP leadership aide told The Hill in October that the two try to meet at least once every term of Congress. The Senate GOP leader also backed McCarthy to win the top job before the end of 2022.

Funding Ukraine

Funding to help Ukraine in its ongoing struggle with Russia is also poised to be a point of contention within the House’s fragmented GOP conference — and among Republicans in both houses.

The government spending bill passed by both chambers in December earmarked $45 billion in funding to support Kiev, buying Congress some time before considering whether to allocate more funds to the embattled ally. But when the hour comes for this debate, the negotiations could become chaotic.

While the majority of the House GOP conference has expressed support for Ukraine during its nearly year-long conflict, a handful of conservative Republicans have opposed helping Kyiv while the war drags on.

In October, McCarthy warned that Republicans in Ukraine’s House of Representatives would not issue a “blank check” if they took control of the chamber, and months earlier, in May, 57 Republicans voted against a multibillion-dollar aid package for Ukraine in May.

The divisions were also evident last month when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an address to a joint session of Congress that was well received by some Republicans and ignored by others.

These differences could prevent aid from being sent to Ukraine in the future. Some Republicans have said that the US-Mexico border should be given more priority than supporting Kyiv.

The small – but outspoken – opposition to aid to Ukraine in the House of Representatives could also set the stage for a chamber-vs-chamber battle pitting McCarthy against McConnell, a vocal supporter of Ukraine who has backed the aid to Kyiv asked.

Will Democrats bail out McCarthy on must-pass bills?

McCarthy’s concession to making it easier to oust an incumbent Speaker has raised concerns on both sides of the aisle that Conservatives will wield that threat like a cudgel over McCarthy and prevent him from passing legislation that needs to be passed – Things like a debt ceiling hike and government financing bills – on the floor, even if it has the bipartisan support to pass them.

Some moderate Republicans have countered that they can still push through such bills by joining with Democrats in a procedural gambit known as a relief motion, which allows a simple majority to enforce legislation even over Speaker objections — an idea Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a co-chair of the moderate Problem Solvers Caucus, was promoted this week.

This scenario poses a dilemma for Democratic leaders, who would be forced to choose whether to bail out McCarthy to prevent episodes like government shutdowns, or let him and take advantage of the opportunity to address dysfunction and divisions in the Republican ranks to highlight.

A similar question could accompany efforts to vacate the chair, which could offer Democrats a chance to topple McCarthy by joining forces with a small group of conservative arsonists. The fallout would provide another opportunity for Democrats to draw attention to discord within the GOP. But it would disrupt a functioning House while lawmakers struggled to fill the void, and raise the prospect that someone far more conservative – and bipartisan-compromisingly opposed – could replace him.

This week’s speakership battle can be revealing. While the Republicans struggled, the Democrats simply held back.

“All we’re asking is that House Republicans get along,” Democratic Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY) said amid the GOP fight.

Where is McCarthy taking his relationship with Trump?

McCarthy’s relationship with Trump is both deep and delicate — a gnarly political kinship complicated only by the attack on the Capitol two years ago.

Immediately after this killing spree, McCarthy went into the House of Representatives and blamed Trump for the riot. But just weeks later — after it was clear that Trump continued to be immensely popular both among the Republican base and at the House GOP conference — he made his way to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida vacation spot to make amends.

Now, exactly two years after the Capitol riot and McCarthy’s initial denunciation of the President, he is once again entangled with Trump.

The former president endorsed McCarthy’s speakership, which led to the midterms despite reservations from the far right. And as McCarthy struggled to win over his conservative critics this week, Trump stepped in again, imploring holdouts to drop their opposition. This lobbying allegedly extended to the 14th round of voting on Friday night, which finally got McCarthy across the finish line.

McCarthy commends Trump and Gaetz for helping secure the speakership. Kevin McCarthy secures speakership after historic ground fight

The relationship could get even more difficult in the coming months.

Trump has already announced his 2024 presidential bid, and a member of McCarthy’s leadership team, Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), has already endorsed him. But Trump’s popularity is also waning among Republicans, and a series of legal and financial entanglements could drop those numbers even further.

This complex network of political factors could leave the newly installed speaker in a difficult position as he navigates an election cycle that has Trump, a figure known for demanding loyalty, on the ballot.

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