The White House is calling on Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of California to release more information about the deal he made with 21 GOP holdouts to secure the gavel.
McCarthy was elected speaker on Jan. 7 after a grueling race that stretched over five days and 15 ballots.
In order to win support from the Republican representatives who initially opposed him, McCarthy agreed to a broad swathe of rule changes designed to devolve power back to House committees. He also placed several holdouts on key committees and held floor votes for several priority bills during the first week of the 118th Congress. According to multiple outlets, McCarthy and some of the holdouts reached a three-page written agreement, but the document has not been made public, and other congressional Republicans have denied its existence.
“An unprecedented tax hike on the middle class and a national abortion ban are just a glimpse of the secret, backroom deals Speaker McCarthy made with extreme MAGA members to end this month’s chaotic elections and claim the gavel,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates told Politico. “It is well past time for Speaker McCarthy and the ultra MAGA Republican House members to come out of the dark and tell the American people, in-full, what they decided in secret.”
The new GOP House majority has repeatedly called out the White House’s lack of transparency surrounding President Joe Biden’s apparent mishandling of classified documents. Congressional Democrats and top aides have defended the president, arguing that Biden’s actions were not as bad as former President Donald Trump’s.
New: President Biden’s aides are escalating a fight w/ newly empowered Republicans, with officials Tuesday calling on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to “come clean” about secretive deals he made with hardliners that helped him eventually land the top job.https://t.co/exbUsvu5Z4
— Christopher Cadelago (@ccadelago) January 17, 2023
The 118th Congress’ House rules package allows a single member to force a floor vote on removing the speaker, requires that bills have only one subject and creates several new committees. The rules also give members 72 hours to read bills before voting on them and freeze the Fiscal Year 2024 budget at FY2022 levels. (RELATED: House Ratifies New GOP Committee Chairs. Here’s Who They Are)
Some Republicans expressed concern about the rules agreement, particularly the spending provisions, although only one ultimately voted against the package. Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales argued that the budget freeze would impact military readiness, telling CBS News that geopolitical posturing from Russia and China make such a move unwise.