House Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s tenure leading the House GOP conference has been marked by tense divisions between the right-wing hardliners who make up the House Freedom Caucus and more mainstream Republicans. These tensions are coming to a head amid legislative battles over appropriation bills to fund the government, with the most conservative members of Congress threatening to sink funding bills they do not view as sufficiently fiscally conservative.
Due to Republicans’ slim majority in the House of Representatives, they can lose only a handful of votes on any given legislation without turning to Democrats for support. The Freedom Caucus contains more than enough to sink these bills, and failure to strike a deal to fund the government through the next fiscal year by the end of the month could result in a government shutdown, fueling economic concerns for millions of Americans.
McCarthy on Wednesday was forced to cancel a vote on the Pentagon appropriations bill due to a lack of support from the conference’s conservative flank, underscoring the challenge he faces as he tries to avert a shutdown.
Bream, the anchor of Fox News Sunday, questioned Stefanik about these tensions during the congresswoman’s interview appearance on the program. Bream referred to an Axios article that was published on Wednesday that described “paralyzed chaos” in the Republican conference.
The article outlined McCarthy struggling to pass the Pentagon and an agriculture appropriations bill, a divisive impeachment inquiry for President Joe Biden that has faced criticism from more moderate Republicans and Representative Matt Gaetz‘s pledge to file a motion to vacate the speakership if McCarthy introduces legislation for a continuing resolution to extend current levels of funding through December to allow more time for negotiations.
“Axios puts it this way, ‘Republicans have fallen into a state of paralyzed chaos with no obvious exit ramp in a government spending fight of their own creation.’ Our brand new Fox News poll also puts congressional approval at 19 percent, so you guys run the House now. What do you tell the American about the fact that we can’t even move a defense bill to fund our troops?” Bream asked.
Stefanik, a New York Republican, responded by saying she is optimistic that House Republicans will pass appropriations bills, emphasizing that she has had “productive” conversations with her colleagues.
“Well, we’re in a very good place. I’ve been engaged in a conversation with members of Congress, as well as Speaker McCarthy over the weekend. We are working through this, and I am optimistic that we will continue to move the appropriations process forward, and that includes the DOD [Department of Defense] appropriations bill, but also includes the continuing resolution to ensure that we do not face a government shutdown,” Stefanik said.
Stefanik also expressed agreement that House Republicans need to reign in inflation, a key priority for conservatives, but said McCarthy’s support among House Republicans “remains strong,” despite rebellion from the conference’s right flank. She predicted the House speaker would survive a motion to vacate, but cast doubt that a motion will be filed.
Newsweek reached out to Stefanik’s office for comment via email.
Other reports, however, have suggested relations remained strained between McCarthy and the Freedom Caucus. McCarthy reportedly lashed out at the caucus during a closed-door meeting on Thursday, with Politico reporting that he said, “If you think you scare me because you want to file a motion to vacate, move the f****** motion.”