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Texas congressmen among Republican rebels voting against Kevin McCarthy’s speaker bid

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Screenshot from Forbes
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, speaks from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday during the vote for speaker. He voted against Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., three times.

A trio of Texas GOP congressmen played a key role in preventing Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from becoming speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Republicans Chip Roy, R-Austin, Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, and Keith Self, R-McKinney, were among 20 hard-line GOP rebels who held the line and voted against McCarthy despite negotiations over rule changes and committee appointments.

The opposition left the lower chamber without a top leader at least until Wednesday, when lawmakers will reconvene to vote again.

Before Tuesday, it was clear McCarthy didn’t have the 218 votes needed to become speaker after the first round of voting. But Self’s vote came as a surprise since he hadn’t made public his position.

“I’m looking for the man or the woman who will be strong and enforce rules from the top, from the leadership,” the congressman-elect told The Texas Newsroom on Tuesday evening.

Self voted instead for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Jordan himself supports McCarthy.

Self recognized McCarthy’s concession, including reinstating the Cut-As-You-Go rule, or CUTGO. That rule requires that any mandatory spending increase is matched by a spending cut.

But Self said even that concession seems to have been made to appease conservatives like him and not to actually improve the legislative process.

“Mandatory spending is all of the most important spending in the constituents’ minds, and it is very difficult to see how anyone would be able to enforce that,” Self said. “So I’m not sure that’s even a reasonable rule.”

Most of the Congress members who voted against McCarthy are part of the House Freedom Caucus, an ultra-conservative group of lawmakers. McCarthy made other concessions in order to get enough votes from them to become speaker. He conceded to allow any five Republican lawmakers to initiate a vote of no confidence against the speaker, Fox News reported Monday. He also vowed to end remote voting.

Speaking from the House floor on Tuesday afternoon, Roy said the vote was “about the future of the country.”

He surprised his colleagues when he voted for Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., for speaker once and for Rep. Jordan twice.

Roy said he wanted members to have the ability to offer amendments to legislation from the floor of the House.

“The fact is this place has to change,” Roy said. “It has to change and the change comes by either adopting rules and procedures that would make us actually do our jobs, or it comes from leadership.”

Tuesday’s vote showed one of the biggest divisions so far within the Republican Party, and within the Texas GOP delegation.

Speaking to reporters, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, slammed the GOP members who voted against McCarthy.

“We will not vote for anyone else but McCarthy — those people think they are stubborn, we are more stubborn,” Crenshaw said. “They are enemies now.”

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the Texas Capitol Reporter for The Texas Newsroom. Got a tip? Email him at smb@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel.
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