EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Ken Buck Explains How Speaker McCarthy Can Win His Support Back

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
Font Size:

Republican Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, one of 11 conservatives to vote down a rule protecting gas stoves, believes that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy will need to address House floor rules and heightened spending levels in order to regain his support.

Buck voted against allowing the House to consider legislation preventing the Biden administration from banning gas stoves. When fellow Freedom Caucus members like North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert joined him, a rule failed on the House floor for the first time since 2002.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller, Buck explained that threats directed towards Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde and broken promises from the Speaker’s race spurred the revolt.

“We decided that that would be the appropriate response. We talked to a few others and it sort of grew organically from there,” he said, explaining that the hold-up would continue “until we have a system that inspires trust.”

During the Speaker’s race, McCarthy agreed to a series of rule changes and legislative promises in order to gain the support of 20 GOP holdouts. Although he voted for McCarthy on each of the 15 ballots, Buck supports the promises the Californian made to the holdouts and believes that he must stick to them.

“He would limit spending to the Fiscal Year 2022 levels. He made other promises about the motion to vacate and other procedures in the House. Based on those promises, I supported him with the clear understanding that if he reneged I would withdraw my support.” (RELATED: The House Just Passed The Fiscal Responsibility Act. Here’s What’s In It)

McCarthy and President Joe Biden ultimately agreed to a debt ceiling deal with caps that would place the FY2024 budget at 2023 levels. When Clyde opposed a rule as part of the debt ceiling vote series, McCarthy and his leadership team threatened to keep one of his bills off the floor. Tennessee Rep. Diana Harshbarger was reportedly similarly threatened, according to Politico.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: U.S. Rep.-elect Mike Rogers (R-AL) is restrained after getting into an argument with Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in the House Chamber during the fourth day of voting for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Party leadership has attempted to browbeat members since the 118th Congress began, when Steering Committee member Mike Rogers of Alabama threatened to strip the 20 holdouts of prized committee assignments.

“The idea of punishing members who believe strongly in their legislation and their views” is unacceptable, Buck said. “There are certainly things that can be taken away from members like committee assignments,” although he acknowledged that he is not aware of leadership efforts to do so at this time. (RELATED: House Passes Rules Package. Here’s What Conservatives Won)

Just as important for Buck is repeated spending on programs that have not been officially authorized by Congress. The Congressional Budget Office found in April that Congress is spending money on 1,108 programs that are not authorized for FY2023. Another 355 programs will lose their authorizations during the fiscal year, according to the CBO. In addition, Congress spent $510 billion in FY2023 across 428 programs that were not authorized.

House rules prohibit Congress from spending money on programs that are not authorized, Buck explained, but the House has repeatedly waved rules while passing appropriations packages. This allows them to bypass those requirements. The congressman said that he has been in talks with McCarthy and his team about the rules surrounding the appropriations process since the 2022 midterms, so they are aware of his position.

“I feel confident that it should happen and that they’re aware of the need that it happen,” Buck said. “The role of the committees, the authorizing committees, is we authorize programs. They haven’t done that for decades. They need to flex their muscles.”