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Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz (FL) and Andy Biggs (AZ) praised McCarthy’s tenure as Speaker so far. Their comments are especially noteworthy, considering the source: Gaetz was one of the most vociferous opponents of McCarthy’s bid for the Speakership, and one of the final six holdouts who voted present during the 15th ballot; Biggs mounted his own bid for Speakership to contest McCarthy.
“I’d give him an ‘A,’” Gaetz told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju, according to a tweet from the reporter. “I don’t give it lightly. I think he’s done a good job.”
“I think he’s doing better than expected,” Biggs added.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a one-time fierce critic of McCarthy’s, praised his job performance so far. “I’d give him an ‘A,’” he told me. “I don’t give it lightly. I think he’s done a good job.”
Andy Biggs, who ran against McCarthy: “I think he’s doing better than expected,” he said
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 27, 2023
The praise from the two members comes just one day after both members voted against McCarthy’s plan to temporarily raise the debt ceiling. Gaetz and Biggs joined Reps. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Ken Buck (R-CO) in voting against the “Limit, Save Grow Act of 2023,” which would suspend the debt limit until it rises by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024 — whichever comes first — in exchange for a host of spending cuts.
“As our nation is careening into a $32 trillion debt, Congress shouldn’t be making final changes at 2 a.m. — the morning of the vote — to legislation raising the debt limit $1.5 trillion,” Gaetz’s office said in a statement.
“While I applaud the work of my Republican colleagues to demand better energy policy, regulatory reform, welfare-to-work requirements and less spending, a troubling fact remains. This plan will increase America’s debt by $16 trillion over the next ten years,” he added. “Gaslighting nearly $50 trillion in debt to America is something my [conscience] cannot abide at this time.”
Biggs faulted the legislation for not reducing the national debt and failing to be more “aggressive” in spending. He said federal spending should at the very least be returned to fiscal year 2019, pre-COVID pandemic levels — as opposed to 2022 levels outlined in the bill.
“Our national debt is a top national security threat. I have never voted to raise the debt ceiling in my time in Congress – even while President Trump was in the Oval Office — and didn’t today for the same reasons,” Biggs said in a statement. “We owe the American people and our future generations sound and responsible fiscal policy. Increasing the national debt to ‘only’ $47 trillion over ten years — an increase of over $14 trillion from today — is misguided and perpetuates Washington’s spending problem.”
Despite some opposition from within his own party, McCarthy has gained support for his debt ceiling plan from the other side of the aisle. Moderate Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) recently called on the Biden administration to negotiate with McCarthy.
“America is facing a historic economic crisis brought on by an abject failure to address our exploding national debt, chronic inflation, a looming recession, and the more immediate need to raise the debt ceiling,” Manchin said in a statement last week. “Our elected leaders must stop with the political games, work together and negotiate a compromise. Instead, it has been more than 78 days since President Biden last met with Speaker McCarthy. This signals a deficiency of leadership, and it must change. The fact is we are long past time for our elected leaders to sit down and discuss how to solve this impending debt ceiling crisis.”