WASHINGTON — Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) just made life more difficult for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Gonzales said he’d oppose a broader deal McCarthy wants to strike with President Joe Biden over federal spending and the debt ceiling if the House votes on immigration restrictions Gonzales considers downright unchristian.
“Bring unchristian anti-immigrant bills to the floor and I am a NO on the debt ceiling,” Gonzales said on Twitter.
Since Republicans have a slim five-seat majority in the House, it only takes a handful of members to alter a vote outcome — meaning Gonzales just made it harder for McCarthy to twist Biden’s arm.
Unless Biden agrees to spending cuts, McCarthy has said he would oppose an increase in the Treasury Department’s ability to borrow money, without which the federal government would default on its debts sometime this summer, potentially causing a bank crisis and recession.
This week, in a letter to Biden, McCarthy offered some broad ideas for what kind of policy changes he wants to see, including spending cuts and “work requirements” for unspecified federal programs. The letter also mentioned policies “to secure our border from the flow of deadly fentanyl that is killing 300 Americans per day.”
McCarthy had planned for the House to take up border security legislation, including a bill by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), an influential member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, back in January. Roy’s legislation would block asylum seekers from entering the country if the Department of Homeland Security can’t detain or deport them. But McCarthy abandoned plans for a floor vote amid divisions between hardliners like Roy and moderates like Gonzales.
Gonzales has opposed the Roy bill from the start and previously described it as “un-American.” Republicans have said they would be able to win him over, but his new threat to vote against a potentially unrelated debt ceiling bill suggests they’re not having much luck.
“That bill in particular, it’s dead,” Gonzales said Sunday on Face the Nation. “There’s no way it’s going to get on the floor. I’m gonna do everything in my power to prevent that because in my district, people are dying. And we need real solutions, not political rhetoric.”
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), a member of McCarthy’s leadership team, told HuffPost that Republicans would work things out.
“People are allowed to express their feelings, whether you agree with them or not,” Emmer said. “But there’s an ongoing discussion that I think is going to get resolved.”