Former Representative Liz Cheney warned that the nation will “suffer” after a report that Representative Kevin McCarthy is making a deal to cap defense spending in order to win the House speaker vote.
McCarthy, a representative from California and the top Republican in the House last term, has failed to garner enough support to be elected the next speaker of the House in 13 consecutive votes this week.
Following the most recent round of voting, McCarthy had acquired 214 votes—four short of the 218 majority that’s necessary to elect a speaker.
The Republican leader was hopeful for round 14, however, which is expected after members of the House reconvene Friday at 8 p.m. ET. McCarthy told reporters after the House adjourned Friday afternoon, “We’ll come back tonight and I believe at that time we’ll have the votes to finish this once and for all.”
McCarthy has reportedly been attempting to cut a deal with his fellow Republicans who have blocked him from the speaker position thus far. Bloomberg reported Friday afternoon that three sources familiar with the “emerging deal” said that negotiations involve capping the 2024 fiscal year government discretionary spending to 2022 levels, which means defense spending could take a hit.
Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming who lost in her primary in August, tweeted a link to Bloomberg’s report on Friday, commenting that some of the U.S. foes, such as China and Russia, are “watching” McCarthy’s alleged choices.
“Ronald Reagan taught us that weakness is provocative. China and Russia are watching,” Cheney wrote.
“If [Kevin McCarthy] agreed to weaken our national defense for his own personal gain, that will be his legacy, and our nation will suffer,” she added in her tweet.
Cheney has been one of the most prominent Republican critics of former President Donald Trump—who has repeatedly endorsed McCarthy for speaker—and served as vice chair of the January 6 committee.
Some of McCarthy’s loudest critics during voting this week include conservative lawmakers that have openly criticized U.S. defense spending to Ukraine, such as Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert, who said earlier this week that the “American taxpayers are certainly winning” without an elected speaker because it meant the government wasn’t “spending money, sending it to Ukraine.”
As Bloomberg reports, national defense spending rose $75 billion between fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The Department of Defense reported Friday that the Biden Administration had provided over $24.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February.
McCarthy was able to gain 15 GOP votes in his favor on Friday after several days of negotiations. Florida Representative Byron Donalds, who was one of the alternative speaker nominations from dissenting Republicans this week, released a statement on Twitter Friday after flipping his vote for McCarthy, saying that he and several colleagues were working “in good faith” with the Republican leader.
“Over the past several days, I’ve worked alongside Speaker Designate @kevinomccarthy and several of my colleagues in good faith to ensure accountability, representation, and commitments from House leadership in the 118th Congress,” Donalds wrote. “The progress we’ve made is significant.”
Newsweek reached out to Cheney for further comment.
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