Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he plans to vote for the rule governing debate over the debt limit bill, virtually ensuring the legislation’s advancement to the House floor despite conservative opposition.
Massie — a conservative lawmaker who sits on the House Rules Committee — announced his intent to vote for the rule during the panel’s hearing on Tuesday.
“I want to see the rule, it’s not printed yet, it’s not been read, but I anticipate voting for this rule,” he said. “When people want to express their ideology, the floor of the House on the actual final passage of the bill is the place to do that. What do the 13 of us owe the rest of Congress? We owe them an honest shake and a playing field that doesn’t change.”
Attention was focused on the Rules Committee on Tuesday as it debated the debt limit bill crafted by President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). The legislation raises the debt limit for two years, beefs up work requirements for federal public assistance programs and rescinds billions of dollars in unspent COVID-19 funding, among other provisions.
The legislation has come under criticism from some liberals and conservatives, with Democrats concerned with the number of spending provisions in the measure and Republicans frustrated that the legislation is not aggressive enough in terms of cutting spending.
Reps. Chip Roy (Texas) and Ralph Norman (S.C.) — both of whom sit on the Rules Committee — have emerged as outspoken GOP critics of the bill, leading some to question if they would oppose the rules on Tuesday.
Votes in the Rules Committee are typically party-line, with the majority party supporting the rule and the minority voting against it. But if Massie, Norman and Roy all voted against the rule — and Democrats oppose it as well, which is customary — the bill would be blocked from advancing to the floor.
Roy and Norman have both signaled that they could vote against the rule in an attempt to block it from reaching the floor.
“I’m on Rules Committee, it’s a great committee, we know everything coming through, but folks, if we can stop it there I will stop it,” Norman said during a press conference on Tuesday.
In a tweet on Sunday, Roy said, “We’re going to try” to stop the bill from passing the House.
Massie, however, virtually erased that possibility on Tuesday when he said he plans to vote for the rule.
The Kentucky Republican highlighted a provision in the bill that incentivizes Congress to pass 12 appropriations bills by threatening to cut government spending by 1 percent across the board if the measures are not approved by Jan. 1.
“There is one way in which I think this bill got better, and it is this one percent cut that we’re all agreeing to if we vote for this bill, Republicans and Democrat, come Jan. 1. If we haven’t done our homework, and if the Senate hasn’t done their homework, and if the president hasn’t signed those bills — so everybody is gonna be in this, responsible for the outcome,” Massie said during the Rules Committee hearing.
The congressman did, however, criticize the process by which Biden and McCarthy struck their agreement.
“I don’t like this process that led to this bill, I’m not gonna lie,” he said on Tuesday. “Sending in one person to go into a room with another person and no cameras there, and then they come out and say up or down, take it or leave it. That is not a good process.”
“But that’s not the process we’re gonna follow when we get to appropriations. And the one redeeming — there are things to dislike and things to like about this bill — but the redeeming portion for me is section 102 where we all come to the — we’re forced, Senate, House, Republican, Democrat, president, everybody, for us to come to the table and do our job, pass all 12 appropriations bills. If we haven’t at that point and there’ll be a 1 percent cut,” he added.
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