Vermont Gov. Scott vetoes Democratic Legislature’s self-imposed pay raise

Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have raised the salaries for members of the state's part-time legislature and made them eligible for the state employees' health benefit plan.


Scott wrote in his veto letter to lawmakers that the Legislature passed several pieces of legislation that he said will significantly increase costs for Vermonters through new and higher taxes, fees and penalties.

"In my opinion, it does not seem fair for legislators to insulate themselves from the very costs they are imposing on their constituents by doubling their own future pay," the governor wrote.


The bill would have raised the weekly salaries for senators and House representatives over several years to $1,210 with adjustments. They currently make about $812 a week now for the session that usually runs from January to mid-May, according to Vermont Public.

Scott has vetoed five bills this year. The legislature has overridden one of his bills and is returning to the Statehouse on June 20 to try to override others, including his veto of the state budget.

Trump makes unconstitutional promise to racist base

Seditionist Donald Trump is again a Republican candidate for president. Unfortunately for Trump's new campaign staff, "President" Donald now has an actual White House record behind him, and that's been causing complications. Much of what Trump is now vowing he'll do if put back in the Oval Office is the same stuff he promised to do before—but couldn't or didn't actually deliver.

Most of Trump's new campaign promises, in fact, have been falling into two broad categories. Half of the promises are overtly authoritarian vows, like Trump's threat to pardon the Jan. 6 insurrectionists who attacked Congress on his behalf; the other half are whining assertions that all that stuff he promised he'd do back during the first campaign are things he'll super-duper for sure do next time, just you wait.

The Trump campaign's latest ode de bullshitte combines fascist rhetoric, brazen lying, and a grubby chunk of base racism all into one alleged new promise: Trump says on his first day of office, he will sign an executive order nullifying the Constitution's grant of birthright citizenship to children born inside the United States.

If this sounds familiar, that's because it is. Trump very famously promised this during his last administration, making a big stink of it halfway through his term as a midterm campaign issue.

It didn't happen because the very idea is a goofy crank theory perpetuated by anti-immigrant and racist groups and one that's been widely scorned, if not laughed at, by every legal scholar who is not an outright far-right crank. What we call "birthright citizenship" is enshrined into the Constitution via the 14th Amendment; its validity has been settled law for over 120 years, and even the most fringe of conservative groups pin their hopes on Congress passing new legislation to theoretically strip those 14th Amendment protections.

Campaign Action

That, then, is why "President" Trump's previous vow to issue such an order resulted in absolutely nothing happening; not even his own fringe-right advisers thought he could get away with it. Much like Trump's propositions to nuke hurricanes or purchase the whole of Greenland, Trump's advisers jingled some keys in his face or showed him an especially flattering magazine article and, eventually, were able to redirect his attention. It's showing up again now only because Trump has even worse advisers than he did the first time around, and because it's campaign season. Donald Trump will lie to his base about everything, all the time, even if it means retelling 8-year-old lies in the hopes that his scatterbrained supporters have the memory retention of goldfish.

There is, however, one odd bit of phrasing that caught our eye, if only for its vague twinges of Lovecraftian horror.

In announcing the new campaign pledge, the Trump campaign asserts that Trump's newly promised Day-One executive order "will explain the clear meaning of the 14th Amendment."

Now there's a thought. Forget 120 years of settled law, forget the courts, forget the rest of government: On Day One, Donald Trump will Trumpsplain what the 14th Amendment to the Constitution actually means.

Forget your Draculas, your mummies, your Mothras, and your Cthulhus. You want to know true fear? Imagine a future in which Donald Trump is again "president" and his White House announces that the Constitution of the United States now means whatever the hell the person, woman, man, camera, TV dementia-test-acing Trump thinks it means.

If you want to truly stare into the abyss, pull up a chair and watch the man Trumpsplain that the Third Amendment's prohibition against "quartering troops" in your house doesn't apply if they're all carrying nickels instead.

The Republican presidential primary race looks like it will be shaping up exactly as expected. If you're a Republican presidential primary voter who's really into fascism and being lied to, you don’t need to look any further than Trump. He’s got you covered. And it's not like Republican voters who still support Trump even after four years, two impeachments, one insurrection, and a criminal indictment might draw the line at Trump repeating previous campaign lies.

We could still be in for a surprise or two, though. The man could always jet off to Moscow, set up his own television studio, and spend his waking days Trumpsplaining our Constitution to us from half a world away. It'd be a lot easier on him than dragging himself up and down the White House stairs again, and have very nearly the same results. You might consider it, Donald!

We have Rural Organizing’s Aftyn Behn. Markos and Aftyn talk about what has been happening in rural communities across the country and progressives’ efforts to engage those voters. Behn also gives the podcast a breakdown of which issues will make the difference in the coming elections.


Trump fans are greedily scooping up 'Trump Bucks' online but—stop the presses!—it's a scam

Trump's taint is scaring off Republican candidates

Trump's awful CNN town hall sounded alarm for 2024 election

House passes debt ceiling deal

UPDATE: Thursday, Jun 1, 2023 · 1:34:30 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Yep. They hate it. 

Biggs is not happy that debt deal passed with more Democrats than Republicans "We were told they'd never put a bill on the floor that would take more Democrats than Rs to pass. We were told that."

— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) June 1, 2023

UPDATE: Thursday, Jun 1, 2023 · 1:26:52 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The deal passed easily, 314 to 177, with more Democratic than Republican votes. The best thing about a vote that big is that it will make Mike Lee and Rand Paul look more ridiculous when they try to hold it up in the Senate. Also that McCarthy owes so much to the Democrats. The Freedom Caucus guys are going to HATE that,

UPDATE: Thursday, Jun 1, 2023 · 12:39:59 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Ugh. Yeah, they’re still yammering. 

Mike Lee is on the House floor, huddling with Andy Biggs and Chip Roy

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) June 1, 2023

UPDATE: Wednesday, May 31, 2023 · 10:12:12 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The closed rule—no amendments allowed, passed pretty easily 241-187. There were 52 Democratic yes votes, and 29 Republican noes. There might not be as many Dems in support when it comes to final passage, and they’ll probably hold out, letting Republicans go first and then determining how many of them will be needed to help pass it. The House is scheduled to pick up again at 7:15 PM, ET to proceed to final passage.

The debt ceiling/budget bill worked out between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will hit the House floor Wednesday afternoon, in a massive blow to the Freedom Caucus maniacs who have been rooting for the nation to default on its debt and for economic catastrophe. Their short rebellion fizzled, and McCarthy may get at least 150 Republican votes on the plan.

The major part of the drama was over once Rep. Tom Massie, a Kentucky Republican, said he would vote the bill out of the Rules Committee. Freedom Caucus Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, and Ralph Norman of South Carolina couldn’t convince him to play spoiler, despite histrionics from Roy throughout the day and his dire warning that “The Republican conference has been torn asunder.”

SIGN: End the Debt Limit game of blackmail. Pass real reform.

What has been torn asunder is the control the Freedom Caucus thought they had over McCarthy. That was clear once members of the group started downplaying their one big card: the motion to vacate the chair. It takes only one member to start the ball rolling on ousting McCarthy from the speakership, and it became clear quickly that there was little appetite among the rebels to even try. Even “firebrand” Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will likely vote for the bill in the end.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likens raising the debt ceiling to a “shit sandwich” but is a lean yes. “I'm a dessert girl. Everyone loves dessert and that's impeachment, someone needs to be impeached,” she adds.

— Juliegrace Brufke (@juliegraceb) May 30, 2023

The deal pretty effectively neuters the Freedom Caucus and limits the damage House Republicans can do between now and Jan. 1, 2025. They can’t take the debt ceiling hostage again in the next year and a half, and they can’t shut down the government by refusing to complete spending bills without doing serious political damage to themselves.

From a progressive perspective, the bill isn’t great, and most in the Progressive Caucus probably won’t support it. They don’t have to. There will be enough Republican votes and votes from other Democrats to pass the bill. From a political and economic stability perspective, the bill is fantastic. It averts economic catastrophe and neutralizes the Freedom Caucus in one go. In other words, Biden wins in a big way.


Republican unity on debt ceiling crumbling fast

House Freedom Caucus neutered by debt ceiling deal

McCarthy's speaker deals come back to haunt him

We have Rural Organizing’s Aftyn Behn. Markos and Aftyn talk about what has been happening in rural communities across the country and progressives’ efforts to engage those voters. Behn also gives the podcast a breakdown of which issues will make the difference in the coming elections.

Morning Digest: Here’s what comes next for Texas’ impeached attorney general

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from Daniel Donner, David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert and David Beard.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

TX-AG: The Texas State Senate on Monday passed a resolution declaring that its trial for Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom the state House impeached over corruption allegations two days before, must begin by Aug. 28. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who like Paxton and every other statewide official is a Republican, is tasked with choosing the starting date and presiding over the tribunal. It would take two-thirds of the 31-member chamber, where the GOP holds a 19-12 majority, to convict Paxton and thus bar him from ever holding state office again.

Paxton will remain suspended until a verdict is reached, and Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster, who joined his boss in trying to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 win, automatically assumed the office. Gov. Greg Abbott has not yet said if he'd select someone to take over from Webster, a key Paxton ally who used his first day on the job to praise the scandal-ridden attorney general in an email to staffers.

If the Senate removed Paxton, though, election law professor Quinn Yeargain writes in Guaranteed Republics that Abbott would be tasked with picking a replacement, and that this person would require the support of two-thirds of the Senate in order to be confirmed. Yeargain adds that a November 2024 special election would take place for the final two years of Paxton's term should he be convicted.

This could be a consequential pick should Abbott get to make it, as political observers point out that whoever holds the powerful post of attorney general could be the frontrunner in 2026 to succeed the governor in the event that he doesn't seek a fourth term. (Abbott himself used this office as a springboard to the governorship in 2014.)

Yeargain, however, notes that, because Republicans are two seats shy of the two-thirds supermajority needed to unilaterally confirm a new attorney general, Democrats could try to pressure Abbott to pick someone who wouldn't run next year. If the Senate failed to oust Paxton, though, he'd be free to run for reelection or higher office three years down the line.

It also remains to be seen if two GOP senators, Angela Paxton and Bryan Hughes, will act as jurors, though the Houston Chronicle says that two-thirds of the total body would need to vote for conviction whether or not there are any recusals. Angela Paxton is Ken Paxton's wife, and she's remained his close ally even though he allegedly convinced a wealthy ally named Nate Paul to hire the woman that the attorney general was having an affair with. The House's articles of impeachment, meanwhile, accuse Paxton of utilizing Hughes as a "straw requestor" for a legal opinion used to aid Paul.

Patrick indicated that neither senator would be required to step aside, saying, "I will be presiding over that case and the senators—all 31 senators—will have a vote." Kenneth Williams, who is a professor of criminal procedure, told the Associated Press that there wasn't any way to prevent Angela Paxton from taking part in the proceedings, saying, "It's up to her ethical standards and compass, basically."

Until a week ago, it didn't look like Ken Paxton was in any immediate danger of losing the office he was reelected to twice while under felony indictment. The attorney general was charged with securities fraud all the way back in 2015, but that trial still has yet to be scheduled. In November of 2020, the AP reported that the FBI was probing him in an unrelated matter for allegedly using his office to help Paul in exchange for favors. Four of Paxton's former top aides also filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming that he'd retaliated against them for helping this investigation; their suit also alleges that Webster took part in this retaliation.

Paxton and his former personnel reached a tentative settlement in February that was contingent on the Texas legislature approving $3.3 million in state funds to the quartet, but it soon became apparent that House Speaker Dade Phelan and other fellow Republicans weren't keen to pay this. And while things seemed to stall, the House General Investigating Committee actually quietly began its own report into Paxton's alleged misbehavior.

Paxton made news Tuesday when he called for Phelan to resign for presiding over his chamber "in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication," but all that was overshadowed the next day when the committee unexpectedly released its report reiterating many of the allegations related to Paul. The committee, which recommended impeachment the next day, went on to say, "We cannot over-emphasize the fact that, but for Paxton's own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement . . . Paxton would not be facing impeachment."

On Saturday, the GOP-dominated House was presented with 20 counts of impeachment. Most of the charges accused Paxton of illegally using his powers to help Paul, though some said he'd tried to interfere in the securities fraud case. Donald Trump, who endorsed the attorney general in last year's primary, tried to pressure Republicans with a TruthSocial message threatening to "fight" anyone who voted for impeachment, while one Republican member of the General Investigating Committee claimed that Paxton himself had contacted representatives "threatening them with political consequences in their next election."

Ultimately, though, impeachment passed 121-23, with 60 Republicans joining 61 Democrats in the affirmative. All 23 noes came from Republicans, with one member from each party voting present: The lone Democrat to do this was Harold Dutton, who infuriated his party earlier this month by backing an anti-trans bill.

Paxton characteristically responded by writing, "Phelan's coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans is now in lockstep with the Biden Administration, the abortion industry, anti-gun zealots, and woke corporations to sabotage my work as Attorney General." He also predicted he'd be acquitted by the Senate where, as Yeargain writes, Angela Paxton would likely become the first person in American history to have the chance to vote on an impeached spouse's conviction.


MD-Sen: AdImpact tells Politico that Rep. David Trone has already reserved close to $2 million as he continues his TV ad campaign almost a year ahead of the Democratic primary. The congressman's newest commercial features him talking about his nephew's death after a long struggle with substance addiction.

NV-Sen: Nevada Newsmakers has released a survey from Vote TXT, a firm whose work we hadn't seen before, showing Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen posting a 39-34 lead in a hypothetical general election over Jim Marchant, the election conspiracy theorist who was the 2022 GOP nominee for secretary of state. The survey also finds 2022 Senate nominee Adam Laxalt edging out Rosen 42-41, though Laxalt said all the way back in December that he didn't "see a scenario where I'm on the ballot in 2024."

OH-Sen: Republican Rep. Warren Davidson has announced he won't run for Senate against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown next year, avoiding a potential headache for establishment Republicans in one of their top pickup opportunities this cycle. The far-right Davidson had been urged to run by the anti-tax hardliners at the Club for Growth, who had reportedly promised to spend on his behalf if he had joined the Republican primary.

Davidson's decision to stay put helps ease the path for wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno to consolidate Trump-supporting primary voters, though Secretary of State Frank LaRose could still join the race and recently said he would decide "by the middle part of summer." Moreno has won praise from Trump himself and a recent endorsement from GOP Sen. J.D. Vance, and he currently faces wealthy state Sen. Matt Dolan, an avowed Trump critic who unsuccessfully ran against Vance in the primary for Ohio's other Senate seat when it was open last year.

PA-Sen: Politico relays that state Treasurer Stacy Garrity isn't ruling out running for the GOP nomination to face Democratic Sen. Bob Casey next year instead of seeking reelection, though Garrity acknowledged that taking on the three-term senator is "going to be tough no matter who runs against him." Garrity won her current office in 2020 when she unseated Democratic incumbent Joseph Torsella 49-48 in an upset even as Biden was pulling off his own close win, and she has gone on to endorse Trump's 2020 election conspiracy theories.

Politico also reports that Carla Sands, a wealthy donor who was Trump's ambassador to Denmark, isn't ruling out a run of her own, though she took a distant fourth place with only 5% when she ran in the primary for Pennsylvania's other Senate seat last year.

WV-Sen: East Carolina University has polled next year's Senate contest in West Virginia and finds Republican Gov. Jim Justice in a dominant position to win. Justice holds a 53-12 lead over Rep. Alex Mooney in the primary and would go on to trounce Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin 54-32 if he's the nominee next year. The poll also tested Mooney against Manchin and finds the congressman leading by a much smaller 41-40 spread.


IN-Gov: Disgraced former Attorney General Curtis Hill tells the Hamilton County Reporter that he is indeed considering running in next year's Republican primary for governor. Hill narrowly lost renomination at the 2020 convention to former Rep. Todd Rokita two years after multiple women accused the attorney general of groping them.

KY-Gov: The RGA's State Solutions affiliate has launched what the GOP firm Medium Buying says is a $325,000 opening general election ad campaign against Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear, though its first commercial is the same one it used against him in mid-April. The spot targets Beshear for vetoing a bill that bans gender-affirming care for young trans people, something the GOP-dominated legislature quickly overrode.

LA-Gov: Far-right state Attorney General Jeff Landry is running new ads with a tough-on-crime message that are anything but subtle in their racist appeals. Landry's ads tout his law enforcement background, and he claims he'll "hold everyone, and I mean everyone, accountable for violent crime." Yet somehow that means just focusing on local officials who are Black Democrats, not their white Democratic counterparts and certainly not any Republicans such as the one who has been the state's top law enforcement officer for the past eight years.

Indeed, Landry's campaign is running similar versions in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport areas, which are Louisiana's three biggest cities and each have large Black populations. As Gambit's Clancy DuBos notes, each version singles out local Black Democrats serving as mayor or district attorney to blame them for crime problems while ignoring white Democrats (let alone Republicans) in similar positions of power there or elsewhere in the state.

Medium Buying relays that Landry has thus far spent or reserved just $376,000 on ads, and it's notable that he's resorting to racist messaging right out of the gate in a race for governor where the lone major Democrat, former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, is Black.

ND-Gov, NH-Gov: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, whom multiple media outlets report has decided to wage a longshot GOP presidential bid, has “a special announcement” set for June 7, while New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Sunday he’d decide on his own White House plans “in the next week or two.” Both Republicans could seek reelection in 2024 should their presidential hopes fail, though Sununu sounds unlikely to run again for his current post.

WA-Gov: A bipartisan pair of political consultants mention 2022 GOP Senate nominee Tiffany Smiley as a possible candidate for governor to Crosscut, but there's no word if she's interested.


AZ-03: Phoenix City Councilmember Laura Pastor has filed FEC paperwork for a campaign to succeed her fellow Democrat, Senate contender Ruben Gallego, and ABC 15 says her announcement will take place Wednesday. Pastor is the daughter of Gallego’s immediate predecessor, the late Rep. Ed Pastor.

CA-12: Jennifer Tran, a professor at California State University East Bay who also serves as president of the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, is the latest Democrat to announce a campaign to succeed Senate candidate Barbara Lee in this dark-blue Oakland constituency.

Tran joins a race that includes BART board member Lateefah Simon and businessman Tim Sanchez. Simon has endorsements from EMILY's List and some prominent state and local Democrats, and the San Francisco Chronicle recently noted that the locally influential Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County is also behind her.

CA-47, CA-45: Board of Equalization member Mike Schaefer, a Democrat who has survived many scandals, tells the Orange County Register that he’ll run for the open 47th District to replace Democratic Senate candidate Katie Porter. Schaefer previously filed FEC paperwork to campaign for GOP Rep. Michelle Steel’s 45th District, but he tells the paper that he only did this because he didn’t know that Porter’s constituency no longer has this number under the new congressional map. “I’m trying to figure out how to unregister myself,” for the 45th, he says, adding, “I’m trying to get past that hurdle first.”

Schaefer, whose San Diego home isn’t in either of these Orange County constituencies, is 86, which would make him by far the oldest House freshman in American history; that record is currently held by Kentucky Republican William Lewis, who won his seat at age 79 in a 1948 special election and didn’t run for a full term later that year. Schaefer says he also doesn’t intend to seek reelection, though plenty of Democrats would prefer it if he doesn’t even get to serve that long. As the San Francisco Chronicle put it in a jaw-dropping paragraph during his reelection campaign last year:

He was accused — and eventually acquitted — in a 1970 Yellow Cab bribery scandal in San Diego, when he served on the City Council. He was convicted of misdemeanor spousal abuse and jailed in 1993, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, and was ordered by a jury in 1986 to pay $1.83 million to former tenants in Los Angeles who sued because they said their apartments, rented from Schaefer, were overrun with rats, cockroaches, sewage and street gangs, according to the Los Angeles Times. And in 2013, a Nevada court ordered him to stay at least 100 feet away from actor and comedian Brad Garrett, who played a cop and brother in "Everybody Loves Raymond," after he allegedly stalked the actor following a dispute over a complimentary ticket to a Las Vegas show.

Schaefer's team responded by insisting people should focus on his performance in office instead of his "colorful past," and voters supported him 59-41 over a fellow Democrat.  

Schaefer joins a contest that includes two fellow Democrats, state Sen. Dave Min and party activist Joanna Weiss, as well as 2022 GOP nominee Scott Baugh. Min, who has Porter’s endorsement, looked like the party’s frontrunner until he was arrested for drunk driving early this month, and one prominent California Democrat has made it clear he wants an alternative. Pete Aguilar, who is the third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership, told the state party convention over the weekend, “The filing deadline is in December.”

DE-AL, DE-Sen, DE-Gov: Bloomberg has the names of some more Democrats who could run for Delaware's top statewide offices if Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester decides to run for Senate following incumbent Tom Carper's retirement announcement. An adviser for Eugene Young, who is the director of the Delaware State Housing Authority, says his boss is considering running for House, and state Treasurer Colleen Davis gave an interview where she didn't rule out running for House, Senate, or to succeed term-limited Gov. John Carney.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that state Sen. Sarah McBride is "assembling plans" to run for House if Blunt Rochester goes for Senate. Lastly, unnamed insiders mentioned state Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro as a potential House candidate, though she doesn't appear to have said anything publicly yet.

IL-12: Darren Bailey, the far-right former state senator who was the GOP's nominee for governor of Illinois last year, did not rule out waging a primary bid against Rep. Mike Bost when KSDK asked him about it, a development that comes a month after Politico first reported that he was considering the idea. Bailey instead texted the station that he and his wife were praying about their next steps, adding, "As of right now there are no plans, but we will keep you up to date."  

MD-06: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that U.S. Commerce Department official April McClain-Delaney not only is considering a bid for the Democratic nod, she's also been speaking to campaign vendors. McClain-Delaney is the wife of former Rep. John Delaney, who won a previous version of this seat in 2012 and gave it up six years later to run for president.

MN-02: Attorney Tayler Rahm over the weekend announced he'd campaign as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Angie Craig. Biden carried this constituency, which is based in the southern Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs, 53-45, while Craig won her third term 51-46 last year.  

NY-17: Former Bedford Town Supervisor MaryAnn Carr has filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid for the Democratic nod to take on GOP Rep. Mike Lawler. Carr's colleagues on the Town Board in early 2021 chose her to fill the vacant post as leader this community of 17,000, but she lost the primary for a full term later that year to Councilwoman Ellen Calves 67-33.

RI-01: Bella Machado Noka, who is a Narragansett Aboriginal Nation tribal elder, announced Thursday that she was joining the packed Democratic special election primary. Noka would be the first Native American to represent New England in Congress.

TX-32: Justin Moore, a civil rights attorney who previously served as a local prosecutor, has joined the Democratic primary to succeed Senate candidate Colin Allred.

UT-02, UT-Sen: Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, multiple unnamed sources tell the Salt Lake Tribune, plans to resign from the House as soon as this week due to unknown "ongoing health issues with his wife." The departure of Stewart, who has been an ardent conservative hardliner during his decade in Congress, would set off a special election to succeed him in a constituency that Donald Trump carried 57-40. His exit from Congress also almost certainly means that he won't be challenging Sen. Mitt Romney despite not ruling out the idea last month.


Alberta, Canada: The governing United Conservative Party, led by the controversial Danielle Smith, secured a second consecutive term in the western Canadian province of Alberta on Monday by winning 49 seats in the provincial legislature, with the remaining 38 seats going to the left-leaning New Democratic Party under the leadership of Rachel Notley. While the NDP did manage to make major gains at the expense of the UCP by flipping 14 seats, the provincewide vote margin favored the ruling party 53-44. However, that margin understates how close the race really was: The UCP won their six most competitive seats in the cities of Calgary and Lethbridge by just over 2,600 votes collectively.

McCarthy’s future on the line as he whips debt ceiling deal

He got President Biden to negotiate. And then he got a deal. Now, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is in the final phase of his debt ceiling saga: whipping up enough support for the bill in the House GOP conference to secure his political future.

Basic political wisdom dictates that McCarthy needs a majority of House Republicans to support the bill in order to maintain his political power, and McCarthy has repeatedly said that he will meet that standard. He knows he’ll need Democratic help to pass the measure, but the more GOP members that vote with him, the better for the Speaker.

“If a majority of Republicans are against a piece of legislation and you use Democrats to pass it, that would immediately be a black letter violation of the deal we had with McCarthy to allow his ascent to the Speakership, and it would likely trigger an immediate motion to vacate,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Newsmax on Tuesday, referring to a move to oust McCarthy from the Speakership.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters at the Capitol following a meeting at the White House with Congressional leaders and Vice President Harris to discuss the debit ceiling on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (Greg Nash)

As of Tuesday evening, more than two dozen members of the slim, four-seat GOP majority in the House said they will vote against the bill, meaning McCarthy will need to rely on Democratic members supporting the Biden-blessed deal to pass the bill.

If more Democrats than Republicans vote for the bill, McCarthy could be in hot water.

“I am predicting it'll have more Democrat votes than Republican votes,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said Tuesday. “Democrats are truly being told to suppress their enthusiasm, to not talk about it publicly.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that Republicans committed to deliver at least two-thirds of their conference — around 150 GOP members — in favor of the bill. He said Democrats would provide the vote needed to pass the bill, but vowed to hold McCarthy to that number.

McCarthy did not answer a question Tuesday on whether he could deliver 150 GOP votes for the bill, but said that he expects the bill to pass. 

More coverage of the debt ceiling from The Hill:

Some members are already starting to threaten McCarthy’s grasp on the Speaker's gavel, officially ending the honeymoon that lasted for months after the four-day, 15-ballot saga to elect McCarthy as Speaker in January.

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) became the first GOP member to publicly call for ousting McCarthy by making a motion to vacate the chair over the debt deal Tuesday. While it takes just one member to force a vote on ousting the Speaker — a threshold McCarthy agreed to lower from five during his drawn-out Speaker election in January — Bishop did not explicitly commit to making that motion. 

And Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) confirmed an NBC News report that in a House Freedom Caucus call Monday night, he asked whether they were considering calling a motion to vacate due to spending levels in the debt bill being higher than fiscal 2022 levels.

"[Rep.] Scott Perry [R-Pa.], the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told me it's premature,” Buck said on MSNBC on Tuesday.

Republican leaders called members back to Washington for votes and a conference meeting Tuesday evening, allowing leadership to whip support for the bill in person.

“We're kicking way beyond our weight. We barely control half of a third of the government,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said in a House GOP press call Monday evening.

In a two-and-half hour House GOP conference meeting stretching into Tuesday night, opponents of the bill aired grievances, while leaders and their allies argued in favor of the bill. Members left the meeting saying their minds had not been changed.

But the meeting also aimed to lessen any retaliation against leadership by those angry with the bill.

“It's a foregone conclusion it's gonna pass. They're gonna have Democrat support to pass it,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). “And so, we just talked about the after-effects. I don't think McCarthy wants another uprising like this.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who was a swing vote on a procedural hurdle to advance the bill in the House Rules Committee, announced his support for the bill in the meeting. It is the first legislation that he can vote for that has a chance to make it into law that cuts spending, he said.

“The engineer and the problem-solver in me wanted to vote for the bill, and the politician did not,” Massie said. “I'm going against my political instincts in voting for it.”

Massie says he plans to help advance debt limit bill

The deal that McCarthy struck with Biden claws back some spending, increases work requirements on public assistance programs and does not include tax increases — meeting all of the Speaker’s stated red lines for a deal.

But it has significantly fewer cuts and policy reforms less than the “Limit, Save, Grow” legislation the House GOP passed in April. Some members accuse GOP leadership of overstating how much money the bill saves, pointing out loopholes that can undermine or nullify some of the GOP’s stated wins.

Members of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus are pushing GOP members to vote against the bill — warning that their conservative credentials are on the line.

“If every Republican voted the way that they campaigned, they would vote against tomorrow’s bad deal,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said in a press conference Tuesday.

Heritage Action, the advocacy arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, will oppose the bill and include a “key vote” against it on its scorecard — a metric of conservatism that holds weight with many Republican members of Congress, campaign donors and voters. The conservative advocacy organization FreedomWorks also called a “key vote” against the bill Tuesday.

Some members are showing that they can be swayed. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told reporters that while the bill is a “shit sandwich,” she is interested in what “sides” leaders can provide to make the metaphorical meal more appetizing — such as a balanced budget amendment or rescinding more IRS funding. “Dessert,” Greene said, would be impeaching Biden or Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

McCarthy brushed off conservative criticism of the bill Tuesday.

“I’m not sure what in the bill people are concerned about. It is the largest savings of $2.1 trillion we’ve ever had,” McCarthy told reporters, citing what Republicans say are preliminary Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates of how much the deal could reduce the deficit. 

Critics of that figure say that appropriations targets past 2025 are not enforceable.

The CBO on Tuesday evening estimated the deficit reduction at $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

McCarthy also told CNN that he is not worried about his Speakership, saying that he is “still standing” and that reporters are “underestimating” him.

Some of the opposition to the bill is coming outside of the House Freedom Caucus. 

First-term Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-Texas) — who flew back from visiting his wife and newborn in the hospital in order to vote for McCarthy for Speaker in January — said Tuesday that he will vote no on the bill. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), a senior member on the House Ways and Means Committee, also tweeted he plans to oppose the bill.

To some Republicans, the opposition to the deal is puzzling.

“We don't control all those levers of power. So we can't throw a Hail Mary pass on every play, which is what some that are our conference may want to do,” Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) said Monday, saying the bill “is like a 60-yard pass, maybe completed pass.”

Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell contributed.

Greene leaning toward yes on ‘s— sandwich’ debt bill — but she also wants impeachment

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said Tuesday that she’s inclined to support the bipartisan debt ceiling proposal set to hit the House floor Wednesday, but she first wants to secure a commitment from GOP leaders to move several other proposals in the future, including the impeachment of President Biden or a top cabinet official. 

“If you have to eat a shit sandwich, you want to have sides, OK? It makes it much better,” Greene told reporters just outside the Capitol office of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “So what I'm looking for is, I'm looking for some sides and some desserts.”

Greene named two “sides” in particular: A vote on a balanced budget amendment and another on legislation to prevent the hiring of new IRS agents — not only in 2024, as the bipartisan debt-limit bill would do — but also in the years to follow. 

President Biden last year signed legislation providing the IRS with $80 billion over a decade to streamline customer service, update technology and hire auditors to go after those who don’t pay the taxes they owe. 

Republicans have attacked the extra funding, arguing falsely that the IRS intends to use it to hire 87,000 new agents to target middle-class workers, particularly Republicans.

“There were audits and conservative groups were targeted,” Greene said. “One of the sides … I would like to see with this shit sandwich is a way to completely wipe out the 87,000 IRS agents.”

Then she named her “beautiful dessert.”

“Somebody needs to be impeached,” Greene said. She singled out Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Homeland Security Department, as “the lowest hanging fruit” in the eyes of Republicans for his handling of the migrant crisis at the southern border. 

“The border is a serious issue that matters to everyone all over the country, even the Democrat mayor of New York City, the Democrat mayor in Chicago, and just people everywhere,” she said. 

Lax security at the border has also allowed the flow of illicit drugs from Mexico, Greene continued, which in turn has contributed to the deadly fentanyl crisis across the United States. 

“Three hundred Americans are dying every single day,” she said. “Mayorkas, and I argue Biden as well — President Biden — both of them should be impeached for that.”

Greene said the proposals she’s seeking would not be attached to the debt-ceiling bill, but could come later.

“It doesn’t have to happen necessarily today,” she said. “But it can happen quickly, and I’m working on that.”

Greene emphasized that she remains undecided on Wednesday's debt ceiling vote — “I’m still coming to my decision,” she said — but she also suggested those Republicans fighting to kill the proposal were playing into the hands of Senate Democratic leaders who would prefer a “clean” debt ceiling hike without the GOP spending cuts. She predicted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — with an assist from GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) — would attempt to attach the proposal to more funding for the war in Ukraine, which she opposes. 

“I don’t want to see that happen,” she said. “I don’t want to see our group responsible for more funding to Ukraine.”

The comments arrive as McCarthy and his leadership team are racing to shore up GOP support for the debt ceiling proposal they secured Saturday with the White House following tough-fought negotiations that spanned most of the month. 

The Treasury Department has warned that, without congressional action, the government will default on its obligations June 5 for the first time in the nation’s history. 

A group of conservatives has balked at the agreement, saying it doesn’t contain nearly the level of spending cuts needed to rein in deficits and the national debt. Some of those conservatives are now floating the notion that they’ll try to topple McCarthy from the Speakership for his handling of the negotiations. 

Greene, however, threw cold water on that idea, praising McCarthy for his work ethic and blasting his conservative detractors for dividing the party. 

“I think some of this talk is maybe for attention, maybe for fundraising,” she said. “It’s not serious, and it would be a horrible decision.”