GOP rank and file concerned over divide with House leaders

April 26, 2013 at 10:51 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- Republican U.S. House members expressed concern fractures within the party may hurt its efforts during debt-ceiling talks this summer, The Hill reported Friday.

Several veteran GOP lawmakers, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Hill the rank and file were experiencing a "disconnect" with leadership lately. Unless that changes, lawmakers said, Republican efforts to take on President Obama concerning raising the debt ceiling could be jeopardized.

Citing as an example of the disconnect, several members of the GOP deputy whip team said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California alerted Majority Leader Eric Cantor last week they lacked the votes to pass a bill that would revamp part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Despite knowing this, Cantor decided to move the measure forward.

After clearing two committees, the measure was scheduled to be brought to the floor but was pulled when a vote count indicated it lacked enough support for passage. Cantor's office said the measure could come up again in May, although GOP lawmakers said they doubt it will be voted on in the House this year.

"They've lost their minds," one GOP lawmaker said.

Cantor's office Thursday challenged reports of a split with McCarthy, The Hill said.

Cantor's deputy chief of staff, Doug Heye, said the majority leader was working "hand in glove" with all leadership offices "to ensure that we're all moving forward, together, in the same direction."

McCarthy spokeswoman Erica Elliott said leadership will keep discussing how to advance the bill.

Leaders "engage in ongoing conversations throughout the legislative process to determine, evaluate and refine our strategic approach," Elliott said.

On Thursday, McCarthy met with his deputy whip team without staffers present for "an open, frank conversation about the way forward," one participant told The Hill.

"The one real frustrating thing is that the impending [debt-limit debate] that we're about to have -- there's no plan for that," the Republican lawmaker said. "There's no meeting, no discussions."

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