NC congressman wants to stop debt ceiling deal, then consider ousting House speaker

Rep. Dan Bishop said Tuesday he’ll consider ousting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from leadership over a debt ceiling deal McCarthy made Saturday with President Joe Biden.

“I’m just fed up with the lies. I’m fed up with the lack of courage — the cowardice — and I intend in the time that I’m here, to see to it that there is someone who is prepared to say what needs to be done,” Bishop said.

The Charlotte Republican’s statements came Tuesday morning during a news conference the far-right House Freedom Caucus called to criticize their Republican colleagues who intend to support a bill Wednesday night to potentially save the U.S. from an economic catastrophe.

In January, the U.S. hit its $31.4 trillion debt ceiling — a limit regulated by Congress. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers over the weekend the U.S. will not be able to pay its debts if they don’t raise the debt ceiling by June 5. Economists believe if the U.S. fails to pay its debts it would lead to a possible recession, a stock market crash and the devaluation of the U.S. dollar on a global scale, among other things.

Biden, McCarthy and his negotiators have spent the past two weeks trying to find a compromise to raise the debt ceiling and scale back spending in a way that both parties could be comfortable voting through the House and Senate.

On Saturday, they emerged with a plan that includes:

  • Extending the debt ceiling through Jan. 1, 2025

  • Rescinding unspent COVID relief funds

  • Cutting $21.4 billion in funding to the IRS

  • Increasing work requirements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called Food Stamps

  • Forcing student loan borrowers to start repayment at the end of August

But those plans failed to meet a long list of demands the Freedom Caucus wanted to see in the bill. Bishop is a member of the group.

North Carolina’s Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican, served as a lead negotiator and is the bill’s sponsor. Bishop told Spectrum News Tuesday he’s disappointed in McHenry.

Rep. Dan Bishop speaks during a news conference in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol about why a group of representatives changed their minds and voted for Rep. Kevin McCarthy for House speaker on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

Bishop said Tuesday morning Republicans in Congress have been defined this year by their unity. He said in January, while the GOP negotiated whether to name McCarthy speaker, the party’s members agreed to a set of rules. The debt ceiling agreement with Biden negated that work, he said.

“Imagine the decision of Kevin McCarthy and his negotiators to forfeit that,” Bishop said.

Bishop made his rounds on conservative talk shows and on national outlets discussing the compromise bill, including whether someone should call for a motion to vacate the chair, the Congressional phrase for removing McCarthy as House speaker.

“My view is it is going to have to be done,” Bishop told CNN and a handful of other networks.

But Bishop said he is first and foremost focused on the vote Wednesday and will then take a look at what his colleagues want to do about McCarthy.

He added negotiators should have brought various Republican leaders together to negotiate the deal.

“If there is any path in salvaging what we began as a unified conference, this bill, if it passes, must pass with less than half of the Republican conference,” Bishop said. “That is the challenge.”

At least 20 Republicans have voiced their disapproval of the bill since an agreement was reached Saturday. Some of those Republicans, including Rep. Nancy Mace, of South Carolina, were a surprise, even to Bishop, who helped get the hashtag #nodeal trending Tuesday on Twitter.

“I think the only possibility that I see right now to turn this thing around is sort of going viral of these members … that are maybe unexpectedly are saying ‘hell no,’ and explaining what this thing actually does, and the fact that it is going to be a defining vote for every Republican,” Bishop told Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast Tuesday morning.

He called on Republicans to help ensure the bill did not pass Wednesday evening.

Will Democrats vote for debt ceiling bill?

Democrats and Republicans foreshadowed the opposition from their colleagues on the far-right. It’s unclear how the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats will vote Wednesday night.

North Carolina’s delegation largely kept their votes private Tuesday. A House rules committee was expected to go late into Tuesday evening. It’s coupled with a Republican caucus meeting to help the party determine if McCarthy has the votes he needs to move the bill through the chamber.

Rep. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat from Charlotte, took to TikTok over the weekend to explain what Bishop’s call to action meant for Democrats. Jackson said Republicans had a list of demands going into negotiations and many of those were not met.

“My bet is that none of them will vote for this which means we’re several dozen votes short of getting this passed, unless the minority party in the House is willing to provide those votes,” Jackson said. “The problem with this is that the minority party in the House didn’t want to do any of this and now they’re going to be told they have to vote for this or the economy will crash, which is true.”

Both Jackson and Rep. Alma Adams, also a Charlotte Democrat, did not respond to requests from McClatchy for comment about how they plan to vote Wednesday.

A source with knowledge of the situation said some North Carolina Democrats are on the fence about how to vote due to significant cuts to antipoverty programs.

Rep. Wiley Nickel, a Democrat from Cary, told McClatchy Tuesday afternoon he plans to vote “yes.” Nickel said his biggest concern was funding veterans’ medical care, and that made it into the bill.

“I’m fully supportive of the bill,” Nickel said. “It’s a good compromise.”

Reps. Don Davis, a Democrat from Snow Hill, Richard Hudson, a Republican living in Southern Pines, Greg Murphy, a Republican from Greenville, and Deborah Ross, a Democrat from Raleigh, support the bill, according to public statements and news reports. Ross announced she has COVID and can not return to D.C. for the vote.