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Rep. Norman says McCarthy has lost the trust of GOP conference's conservative wing

Norman says he told McCarthy: "You just don't have it now."

Published: June 9, 2023 11:06pm

Updated: June 10, 2023 1:12am

Amid a festering feud in the Republican-led House between some of the conference's most conservative members and its leaders – and now within leadership – South Carolina GOP Rep. Ralph Norman says House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has lost the trust of his conservative wing. 

"The trust factor is not there, and I told [McCarthy.] Me along with others said, 'You just don't have it now,' " Norman, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Friday. "And whether he can repair it, is up to Kevin. He wanted the job. And let's let him try to repair it if he can, or if he really cares to."

Norman was referring to the conservatives' revolt on the House floor Tuesday, partly in response to the debt ceiling compromise between McCarthy and President Biden that some conservatives think failed to extract enough spending cuts. 

"There's a growing number of us that are going to do whatever it takes to have meaningful reform and spending cuts now," Norman also said. 

He also suggested he and others in his caucus feel let down in having supplied enough votes for McCarthy to win the speakership in January in exchange for now unfulfilled promises including better fiscal responsibility. 

"It's so disappointing," he said. "The cancer in this country is spending."

He also suggested the conference was given a "take it or leave it, this is the best we could do" offer when asked to vote in favor of the brokered debt ceiling deal.

"The good news is we're going to continue to fight, and the saga will continue next week and weeks from here on out until we either make some headway or we don't," Norman said days after the conservative revolt effectively stopped all floor voting and McCarthy officially cancelled votes until next week. 

Norman said that the original bill that passed the House with only Republican votes raised the debt ceiling $1.5 trillion and included spending reductions as well as the elimination of green energy tax credits from the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act.

He argued that the compromise bill that Biden signed into law was watered down in terms of spending reductions.

"It's 1% cuts," he said. "It's laughable. We've got to have cuts of 20%, 30% off the current spending we had in the '22 levels."

Meanwhile, there appears to be a rift between McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise over the situation.

When McCarthy was asked earlier this week about the revolt, in which voting was blocked because conservatives joined Democrats to block a preliminary, procedural vote, he said Scalise as the majority leader runs the House floor schedule.

Norman said the speaker is "ultimately responsible" and that blaming Scalise was "unfair."

Scalise has said there has been "a lot of anger on a lot of sides" of the conference since the revolt.

He also said McCarthy must "resolve those issues with those members who have those feelings."

Scalise was referring to a gun-rights bill that Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) wants him to schedule for a floor vote. 

Clyde was reportedly told that bill, along with a legislation that would place restrictions on federal funding of abortion, could be scheduled for a vote if he supported the debt ceiling compromise bill. This situation has apparently angered moderate members of the GOP conference.

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