According to a report from Politico, House Republicans waiting for guidance from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on how fervently they should oppose the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill are receiving nothing but silence from the GOP leader's office.
In what Politico's Olivia Beavers calls a "leadership test" for the California Republican, McCarthy appears to be stuck between going hard against the spending bill while also appeasing moderate members of his caucus who could benefit by bringing infrastructure dollars into their districts with just over a year to go before the midterm elections.
As Beavers wrote, "Speaker Nancy Pelosi can pass the bipartisan bill and the broad Democratic spending plan without Republican votes, but she's staring down warring factions in her own caucus and could use any breathing room GOP votes could offer."
However, McCarthy has left Republicans hanging which has one GOP House member waiting to see what comes next.
"You can't really develop a whip strategy until you know what votes are going to be called," explained Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
"Meanwhile, McCarthy is navigating a political tightrope of his own. Most Republicans are expected to oppose the infrastructure bill, but with the GOP largely expected to take the House majority in 2022 and McCarthy openly vying for the speakership, he must both ensure moderates don't feel left out to dry and also shore up his right flank," the Politico report states before adding, "Some Republicans hope McCarthy actively whips against the bill, whether it is tied to reconciliation or not — and they are curious if McCarthy can get all his members in line in the event of a standalone vote."
Add to to that, some Republicans worry McCarthy may flip-flop as he has done in the past, with Beavers writing, "Some Republicans noted an episode earlier this year, when McCarthy told his conference that he would not whip his members against a measure that would've established the 9/11-style Jan. 6 commission. However, the GOP leader reversed course days later and conducted an informal campaign to persuade his conference to vote against the measure, a pivot that occurred a day after he spoke with Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. It signaled to some moderates that McCarthy will cater to his right-flank at the expense of his more moderate members."
Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) claims the bill, in one form or another, does have some support in the GOP caucus -- with limitations.
"I think it would get good support if it's a totally separate vote, unconnected ... Most Americans want a basic, hard infrastructure bill. Most Americans don't want a $3.5 trillion Bernie Sanders gift bag," he explained.
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