Republicans in the House are proposing significant expenditure cutbacks in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling. But first, during their private weekly meeting on Tuesday, they halted to bid for something else: Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chapstick.
McCarthy’s used cherry lip balm fundraising auction ended when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) put a winning $100,000 bid, according to her spokesperson. She only started bidding after the California Republican decided to sweeten the deal by agreeing to attend a dinner with the winner and any fundraisers and supporters they planned to bring. That money is destined for the House Republican campaign arm.
“I’m honoured to be able to contribute $100,000 to the [National Republican Congressional Committee] in order to help Republicans increase our majority and defeat the Democrats in 2024.” Greene stated in a statement, “My constituents will be honoured to host a visit with Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who we all think is doing an excellent job.”
The scene exemplifies the peculiar reality in which House Republicans find themselves: With McCarthy and President Joe Biden still substantively divided on a debt settlement two days before the Treasury Department’s predicted deadline, they had little choice but to protect the speaker and cast doubt on the Treasury’s assessment. So far, they appear to be solidly behind McCarthy.
Democrats reacted angrily to the McCarthy chapstick auction, which was first reported by AWN.
“They’re doing this insane chapstick shit while the country is in default mode.” “Wild,” progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted.
“Spending $100,000 on chapstick while working long hours to eliminate programmes that working families rely on.” “The GOP’s priorities in a nutshell,” Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) said.
The fundraiser lasted around 15 minutes during Tuesday morning’s closed-door GOP conference meeting, with first-term Rep. Aaron Bean (R-Fla.) heading the auction — after all, it was his campaign’s branded chapstick up for bids. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), and Jason Smith (R-Mo.) also bid.
Following the conclusion of the auction and request for contributions to the NRCC, House Republicans resumed their attention to the debt ceiling. They expressed scepticism about June 1 being as solid a “X-date” for a potential debt default as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has stated.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) used the conference to urge his colleagues to ask Yellen to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on her estimate before June 1, the Florida Republican confirmed.
“So far, she’s been the Obi-Wan Kenobi of wrong answers on the economy,” he said as he left the meeting on Tuesday, suggesting that Yellen is acting on White House directives to increase public awareness of a possible debt default.
Gaetz went on to say that Yellen had less evidence to back up her projection for a possible default than a kid doing “a typical eighth grade algebra assignment.”
That scepticism was shared by Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La. ), who said “we’d like to see more transparency” on how the Treasury arrived at its warning, which was reinforced on Monday, that the country risked being unable to pay its debts as early as next week.
A Treasury official declined to comment on the House Republicans’ remarks.