The blockade by a band of eleven ultraconservatives heightened tensions among republicans following the speaker’s backing of a compromise with the white house to avert a US debt default, showcasing their capacity to grind the chamber to a halt.
McCarthy told reporters at the capitol Wednesday evening that he had been speaking with the hardliners but negotiations were complicated by a lack of clarity on the goals of the protesters, who were angered by the debt deal. On Tuesday 216 Republicans and 14 Democrats voted against a procedural measure to advance bills, marking the first time in more than two decades that a speaker had been unable to muster votes for such a step.
The outcome of the standoff is yet to be seen. The narrow 222 to 212 house gap majority McCarthy oversees enables just five Republican lawmakers to sabotage a measure on a party line vote, making the power of such a small group an important factor in this situation.