EXCLUSIVE: The House Republicans who forced a legislative stalemate earlier this week want written assurances from Speaker Kevin McCarthy that conservatives will get more of a say in what the chamber does after their trust in him had been “shattered” over the debt limit bill, Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., said on Thursday.
“I mean, it’s obvious to everyone that the trust between members of the Freedom Caucus and McCarthy has been shattered over the way that this debt ceiling bill came about. And they’re determining whether and how they can move forward,” Cline told Fox News Digital in an interview. “My understanding is that there’ll be a conversation that would outline the specific requests and commitments in writing.”
Members of the hard line-right House Freedom Caucus and their allies tanked a procedural vote on the rules for a set of Republican-backed bills on Tuesday. It was the first time in two decades that a rules vote had failed. The dissenting lawmakers have voiced anger over the debt limit deal struck between McCarthy and President Biden, claiming Republicans got “rolled” in the compromise, and they’ve accused GOP leadership of exacting revenge on one member who tried to block the bill from coming to the floor by scuttling his own firearms legislation.
Cline was not among those who blocked the bill, but he indicated that he too was dissatisfied with how the debt limit compromise was handled. He was one of 71 House GOP lawmakers to vote against the bill last week.
“My hope is that confidence can be restored and while you never may fully regain the trust that you had, at the very least you have the ability to move forward. And I think that’s what we’re all searching for,” he said.
Cline did not say directly whether he himself thought McCarthy handled the debt limit talks and the current standoff well.
“I think that the need for communication has never been greater,” Cline said when asked how the speaker was dealing with it all. “I mean, it’s always been important, but for him to not just hear from those who support him at 100% of the time, but also hear from those who disagree…on policies, a policy basis, and how to resolve those policy disagreements.”
“I don’t know who he’s hearing from throughout the conference. Hopefully, it’s a diverse array of viewpoints, including conservative,” he added.
The Virginia Republican suggested the appropriations process later this year could be another lane for conservatives to wedge through spending cuts after complaining those in McCarthy and Biden’s deal do not go far enough.
“I would characterize the final bill as a shadow of its former self,” Cline said in reference to the House GOP’s initial debt limit bill, the Limit, Save, Grow Act. “And I was disappointed that we weren’t able to offer amendments to strengthen the bill. But moving forward, especially as a member of [the House Committee on Appropriations], I’m hopeful that we can return to that unity behind conservative legislation. It may even go further than the limits of the agreement.”
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., one of the Republicans who is forcing the standstill, told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that a written agreement between his bloc and McCarthy would not go far enough.
“I don’t need commitments in writing. We’ve had those and they’ve been broken. And so I think that it’s more important that we actually see the plan implemented,” he said.
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