Kevin McCarthy elected House speaker

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Rep. Chip Roy speaks with CNN on Sunday. (CNN)

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a key holdout-turned-negotiator in Kevin McCarthy’s fight for the House speakership, did not want to speculate Sunday when asked by CNN if he would vote to oust McCarthy as speaker should the California Republican fail to carry out promises he made regarding the debt ceiling.

“I’m not going to play the what-if games on how we’re going to use the tools of the House to make sure that we enforce the terms of the agreement. But we will use the tools of the House to enforce the terms of the agreement,” Roy told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Roy’s answer underscores the precarious road ahead for McCarthy who agreed to a rule that any individual member can force a vote to oust him as speaker. McCarthy agreed to this rule change as part of a broad list of concessions he made in order to secure the votes necessary to win the speaker’s gavel. 

Tapper asked Roy specifically if he would force a vote against McCarthy as House speaker if the California Republican failed to follow through on another concession he made to appease the right-wing holdouts: a promise not to raise the debt ceiling without some accompanying spending cuts.

The prolonged opposition to McCarthy, and the deals he made to clinch the speakership, has raised concerns for how House Republicans will govern in the majority, particularly as Congress races toward decisions that need to be made about the nation’s debt ceiling, which is about paying the country’s bills.

Congress had a similar showdown to try and force spending cuts in 2011, which led to America’s credit rating getting downgraded.

Asked how to avoid a similar fate, Roy told Tapper, “The fastest way to guarantee that we have debt rating problems is to keep spending money we don’t have, and keep piling up debt and that’s what we’re doing,” adding that lawmakers need to figure out how to address these issues now.

Asked specifically if McCarthy or his allies in the negotiations had said anything about cutting Medicare and Social Security, Roy said, “We’re not going to touch the benefits that are going to people who are relying on the benefits under Social Security and Medicare. But we all have to be honest about sitting at the table and figuring out how we’re going to make those work.”

McCarthy also agreed to allow for more members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus to serve on various committees, including the powerful Rules Committee, which dictates the legislation that makes it to the floor. While Roy revealed he has not been promised anything, he said he may end up on the Rules panel “if that’s what my colleagues want.”

Reflecting on the unprecedented 15-ballot floor fight that culminated in McCarthy getting the speaker’s gavel, Roy said, “A little temporary conflict is necessary in this town.”


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