How McCarthy mollified the right on his debt plan — for now


Soon after House conservatives extracted enough concessions from Kevin McCarthy to let him claim the speakership, they began plotting their next move: Pushing him as far right as they possibly could on the debt ceiling.

It started in late January, when a group of House and Senate conservatives gathered around Sen. Rick Scott’s dining room table to try to solve a seemingly impossible problem. Given McCarthy’s slim majority — and the reality that many on his right flank had never voted to lift the debt ceiling — could conservatives write a bill that would unite the party and give it at least a bit of leverage in talks with the White House?

The answer came Wednesday afternoon, when McCarthy muscled through his debt plan in the House’s most consequential vote since he won the speakership on Jan. 7. It was a huge relief for a speaker who faces the constant risk of a conservative rebellion — but the GOP elation over passage of a bill that will never become law also marked one more example of the party’s right flank shaping its congressional strategy at nearly every turn.