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McCarthy faces sudden challenge from hardliners after US debt ceiling bill

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By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces a revolt from hardline Republicans who accuse him of betraying an agreement that got him elected to lead the chamber, raising questions about the job security of the top Republican in Congress.

About a dozen hardliners derailed a Republican effort in the House of Representatives on Tuesday to block new environmental regulations on household gas stoves, joining with Democrats to kill the measure in the Republican-controlled chamber.

The hardliners’ vow to use “procedural rules” on other votes unless McCarthy agrees to their terms raised questions about whether the House would be able to proceed with other legislation.

Those hardliners were among the House Republicans who opposed McCarthy’s election as speaker in January until he agreed to concessions that make it easy to challenge his leadership.

They were also among the 71 Republicans who opposed the compromise debt ceiling legislation passed last week. They maintain that McCarthy and his leadership team failed to deliver on promised spending cuts, ignored their input and retaliated against one of their members.

“What we plan to do is to be ready at all points in time, acting in good faith, to re-forge the unity that was destroyed last week,” said Representative Dan Bishop, one of the hardliners.

Bishop and other conservatives joined with Democrats in a 220-206 vote that prevented the Republican-led chamber from debating and passing two bills to prevent federal regulations on gas stoves. Some state and local governments have turned to such regulations as a way of addressing global warming.

The protest raised questions about whether the House would be able to proceed with other legislation, including a measure to increase congressional scrutiny of regulations and expand the scope of judicial review of federal agencies.

McCarthy and his allies met with the group on Tuesday night to try to resolve their differences.

“This is not about lecturing Republicans about what it means to be Republican. It’s about how we work together on a daily, weekly basis,” Representative Patrick McHenry, a McCarthy ally, told reporters.

McCarthy oversees a narrow House Republican majority of 222-213, meaning that he can lose only four votes from his own party on any measure that faces uniform opposition from Democrats.

McCarthy endured 15 floor votes in January until he finally won the vote for speaker, agreeing to a set of demands that the hardliners now say he violated to pass the debt ceiling bill. The agreement allows a single lawmaker to seek his removal through a floor vote.

Hardliners said they would not pursue that route for now.

“Let’s sit down at the table and let’s figure out how we’re going to make decisions for the Republican conference going forward. Is it going to be through consensus, or is it going to be by fiat?” said Republican Representative Chip Roy.

(Reporting by David Morgan; editing by Andy Sullivan and Leslie Adler)

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