U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker speaks during the election celebration at Lancaster County GOP's headquarters on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

The small group of Republicans who have blocked California’s Kevin McCarthy from becoming the next Speaker of the U.S. House are preventing the majority party from doing what the American people elected them to do in November, according to Congressman Lloyd Smucker, whose 11th District includes all of Lancaster County and half of York County.

“It does get frustrating for someone like myself who really wants to get moving with our agenda,” Smucker said late Wednesday afternoon, shortly after a four-hour House session in which he called out McCarthy’s name as the House clerk called the roll in three Speaker votes. He voted three times for McCarthy on Tuesday as well.

“Every single day that those 20 individuals continue to hold out is a day that we’re not doing the work we should be doing for the American people,” Smucker said, referring to the block of conservative Republicans who say McCarthy will not agree to their demands on how the GOP majority should run the House.

Those rules were “negotiated by the entire conference, including the group that is not with McCarthy at this point,” Smucker said, noting that “many members of that group have had amendments that they’ve proposed that have been included in our rules package.”

And those rules, Smucker said, laid out an ambitious agenda for the first two weeks of the new Congress: “Our very first bill was something that we promised to the American people ... to rescind the 87,000 new IRS agents to ensure that the American people aren't harassed.”

One of the leaders of the holdout group is Rep. Scott Perry, who represents a district bordering Smucker’s. Smucker said he’s spoken with his “good friend” Perry and the others to understand what their reservations are about McCarthy.

“It’s been a little difficult to discern what it is that they want. And it’s not necessarily the same for each of them. There are reasons that they are not willing to support McCarthy. And we’ll see over time whether those reasons can be mitigated. And I think we’ll get there eventually,” Smucker said.

Smucker downplayed the notion that a bipartisan group of House members would come together to elect a consensus Speaker, which is what happened Tuesday in the Pennsylvania state House.

It’s “unlikely,” he said, because, “Kevin McCarthy is recognized by the vast majority of our members in our conference as the right person to lead us.”

One issue keeping at least some of the holdouts from supporting McCarthy has to do with the federal debt ceiling, which Congress will need to raise in the coming month to avoid a default on the U.S. debt. The conservatives want a commitment that the debt ceiling won’t be raised by a Republican House unless there are significant cuts to government spending, even if it results in a government shutdown.

But Smucker said the impasse over the speakership is only delaying his party from working to address the debt, an issue Smucker says this Congress must act on because not doing so risks a run on the U.S. dollar and possible collapse of the economy. He said the rules package agreed to by the vast majority of the GOP caucus includes strong provisions on spending.

“We already have things in the rules package that are very, very good tools to ensure that we are getting better control of our spending and our fiscal outlook,” Smucker said, specifically pointing to the “CutGO” provision, short for “cut as you go.”

That provision, Smucker explained, “would allow for points of order when spending is increased.” It means that any House member could challenge spending plans by demanding a vote. In the past, House debates have been strictly choreographed by party leaders, limiting individual lawmakers’ ability to challenge pieces of legislation.

Smucker spoke with LNP | LancasterOnline during a break in the House’s session. Members were expected to reconvene at 8 p.m., with votes on the speakership expected. Until a speaker is elected, nothing else will get done.

“I hope it gets resolved tonight. I’m not sure that it will, it’s going to be up to the 20 holdouts, 20 people who continue to hold out. But somehow we have to come together. And so I hope that the discussions that are occurring right now will lead to that. And we can finally resolve this tonight and move to on doing the work of the American people.”

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