Senior Republicans say they ultimately have the votes to pass both the energy and education bills. But that was only after an aggressive whipping operation by McCarthy’s leadership team, including the majority whip. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), to ease concerns about a flood of amendments.
Such last-minute mishaps will be the norm for Republican leadership over the next two years. Because the party struggles to consolidate its broad promises. Majority. With the party having just four votes on any measure, that won’t be easy — not to mention Democrats eager to exploit divisions across the aisle.
Republicans’ concerns are particularly acute when it comes to the education measure known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” For example, a group of House moderates privately raised alarms about a proposed amendment to the education bill from Rep. Thomas Massey (R-Ky.) that would effectively pull the Department of Education out of business, prohibiting it from handling “any office or program relating to elementary or secondary education.”
But Massey’s amendment was changed to address the concerns of those moderates shortly before the bill hit the floor Thursday.
The GOP’s balancing act doesn’t just apply to amendments. House Republicans face head-on over another key priority: how to shape their baseline bill designed to increase security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On one side, there is the representative. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is pushing a bill that would severely restrict immigration into the U.S. But on the other hand, Reps. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas), Mario Diaz Ballard (R-Fla.) and their allies — who are more moderate on the issue and Roy They fear the bill could eventually ban asylum claims.
Roy and Gonzalez’s feud appeared to have shifted from policy differences to personal animosities, so GOP leadership tried to smooth things over by talking to the two Texans, according to a senior House Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak about internal conversations.
While that border bill is in flux, so is a long-awaited hearing by the Judiciary Committee.
Roy, who sits on the Justice Department, said he expects the committee to take up his bill next week.
“There’s been some conversation about finding the time. But look, the bill is ready. It’s still being prepared. We should bring it up next week,” Roy said in an interview.
“I expect the leadership to fully get behind it and do what they need to do,” Roy said. “I expect we’ll vote on it next week. This is why the leadership gets paid so much. It’s their game now.
Although Roy and Gonzalez have paused in their latest Twitter spat, Republicans remain skeptical that the two have closed the gap on their policy differences.
“I don’t think it changes anything. I mean, they’re at different ends of the spectrum,” the senior House Republican said, adding that one possible solution being discussed is to “pursue individual bills and see which one has the most support.”
Refusing to confirm that the leadership had intervened in his dispute with Roy, he replied, “I try not to waste time with people who try to waste my time.”
“Look, I’ve spent a lot of time being a reasonable actor in this whole deal. I’ve been dealing with people who aren’t reasonable actors,” Gonzalez added. “So guess what? The rules of the game have changed, and the border security package at Homeland Security has a long way to go to earn my support.
The unwelcome option comes as the deadline for moving border policy looms, and Republicans say they need to start moving. More important is the GOP’s education bill, which will land later Thursday.
Days before that debate, McCarthy and his leadership team privately expressed concerns from several convention members about potential “poison pill” amendments related to LGBTQ students or banning books. Some Republicans were under pressure from groups like the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, which opposes the “parents’ bill of rights” proposal and supports some centrist GOP lawmakers.
Another House Republican, which is closely aligned with leadership, said members threatened a “jailbreak” before leadership addressed concerns among various members that the bill would destabilize federal policy. The GOP member said leadership has “significantly” assuaged members’ concerns, particularly by telling them the bill is designed to provide parents with information about theoretical rights, rather than directly meddling in local matters.
“Leadership has been aggressive in overcoming significant concerns that members have had about federalism,” the Republican said, speaking on condition of anonymity and candidly addressing internal debates.
As the vote approaches, GOP leaders hope to have resolved many of their internal concerns with the approximately 20 bipartisan amendments that are expected to receive floor votes.
However, Republicans will be watching closely for a pair of amendments from representatives. Lauren Bobert (R-Colo.): One says that a school’s athletic programs must notify parents if they allow transgender players to play on a gender-identified sports team, and another requires that parents be notified if transgender players are allowed to use gender identity. Signposted bathrooms.