Democrats are pledging to save House speaker Kevin McCarthy from a right-wing rebellion over the debt limit.
A small group of moderate Democrats has quietly reassured their House Republican colleagues they'll help McCarthy keep his gavel if hardliners walk away from a debt agreement, two sources familiar with the discussions told Politico.
“We’ll protect him if he does the right thing,” said one of those House Democrats, adding that McCarthy has been briefed on the discussions.
Senior Republicans dismissed the scheme as unlikely and insisted that it's not clear conservatives would try to strip McCarthy's power if he compromises on the debt limit, and the speaker's team says it won't happen.
“The speaker has never heard of this garbage, has zero interest in it, and thinks Democrats would be better off focusing on doing the jobs they were elected to do,” said McCarthy spokesperson Mark Bednar.
Democrats made a similar offer to John Boehner during a 2013 fiscal standoff, but he eventually decided to resign than accept their help, but Politico reported that chatter over the deal within the Democratic caucus has grown louder as the projected early June deadline grows nearer.
“I would vote to do what’s best for this country and I’ll leave it at that,” said Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA).
If a Republican lawmaker did trigger a vote of no confidence against the speaker, Democrats wouldn't necessarily even need to vote for McCarthy, but could instead block the measure from coming up.
“If he showed some courage to bring something to the floor that would result in a motion to vacate, we would be there to keep him in the seat,” said a second centrist involved in the discussions. “I don’t think McCarthy’s the kind of guy who wants this to be his kind of legacy.”