Can House Republicans behave as the members of a well-functioning political party would? Or are they still the same party that has cycled through one House leader after another over the past decade, unable to find one who can unite various factions?
The past few days of debt-ceiling talks have brought conflicting signals. And Republicans don’t have much more time to choose a path: To avoid a default that many economists believe would be extremely damaging, Congress probably needs to act within the next several days.
For much of the past several weeks, House Republicans have looked decidedly functional. In April, they passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling that included deep spending cuts and was akin to an initial offer in a negotiation. This weekend, Republican leaders finalized a compromise with President Biden in which each side got some of what it wanted. The compromise bill looked to be on course to pass — even as conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats criticized aspects of it.
Yesterday, however, the compromise seemed to be at risk of coming apart because of Republican infighting. “Not one Republican should vote for this bill,” Representative Chip Roy of Texas, an influential ultraconservative, said yesterday afternoon.
Another hard-right Republican, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, was even harsher about his party’s leader, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and the compromise deal that McCarthy negotiated. “I’m fed up with the lies,” Bishop said. “I’m fed up with the lack of courage, the cowardice.” Some outside conservative groups, like the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation, have also criticized the compromise.
It remains unclear whether these complaints are mostly performative or whether they threaten the bill’s prospects. McCarthy continued to express optimism yesterday that the bill would pass, and the House Rules Committee gave him a procedural victory by voting to allow the full House to debate it today.
If the bill passes, all this back and forth will be relatively unimportant, and the outcome will still be a victory for McCarthy, albeit a messy one. But it is also a reminder of the chaos that is now a regular part of Republican Party politics. By comparison, congressional Democrats have been much more unified over the past 15 years and able to pass further-reaching legislation — on health care, the climate and other issues.
If a debt-ceiling bill fails and the government defaults on its obligations, the country could be facing a whole new level of turmoil. Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, has estimated that the government could run out of borrowing authority on Monday.
“I think it is probably going to pass, but there is obviously a lot of Republican unrest,” Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington correspondent, told me last night. “Still rocky times ahead.”
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Jeremy Strong is famous for playing Kendall Roy in “Succession.” He’s also famous for his approach to acting, which GQ has described as “intense to the point of mania and delusion.” He said he tried to shed his own identity to play the part. He wore Kendall’s clothes and practiced self-doubt and the art of overcompensation.
Over four seasons, playing Kendall, a troubled, morally bankrupt son of a billionaire, exhausted him. “Somebody once said that actors are emotional athletes,” Strong told The Times. “And this show has been like a decathlon for me.”