Political notebook: US Rep. Tim Burchett says he would consider supporting effort to remove speaker


NASHVILLE — U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee, said Sunday he would consider backing a possible effort to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy if the California Republican allows any spending deal with Democrats to avoid a federal government shutdown Saturday as Republicans continue wrangling among themselves over a dozen funding bills.

“That would be something I would look strongly at, ma’am, if we do away with our duty that we said we’re going to do,” the Knoxville congressman said Sunday in response to a question posed by CNN’s Dana Bash on the “State of the Union” program.

“There are alternatives, (to) this promise he made to Biden,” Burchett continued, alluding to an agreement McCarthy struck with President Joe Biden. It would provide for a continuing resolution to keep the government funded as House Republicans continue working.

The agreement suspends the debt ceiling to avoid a government shutdown Saturday. It combines that with spending caps on fiscal year 2023-24 appropriations.

“What about the promise we made to the American public that we were going to be responsible Americans?” Burchett told Bash. “Ma’am, we’re going to be governing over a pile of rubble if we’re not careful.”

Burchett and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Northwest Georgia, have been generally supportive of McCarthy until now.

McCarthy is trying to pass each of the 12 spending bills one at a time. At the same time, he would like to pass a continuing resolution that would temporarily keep the federal government funded and avoid furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers while the House and Senate work through the budget approval process.

Last week, the ordinarily nearly universally supported defense spending bill belly-flopped on the chamber floor.

It failed as five Republican hardliners, among them Greene, voted no, joining with Democrats to torpedo passage of the measure in the closely divided chamber.

Burchett voted for the defense bill as did all other Republicans in the Tennessee and Georgia congressional delegations besides Greene.

But Greene refused to support it because she objects to its inclusion of $300 million in military support for Ukraine, which she opposes, she said. The conservative firebrand stated her reasons Friday in a video posted to social media.

“All year long, I have told every single one of my colleagues, I have told the press, I’ve told my district, I’ve posted on social media a thousand times — I am not voting for one single penny to go to a war in Ukraine,” she said. “I’m America first. I work for the United States of America. I work for the American people.”

“Take the money out,” Greene said. “Put (Ukraine funding) in a separate bill if you want to and then I can vote no.”

McCarthy initially considered that but has since decided not to do so.

“It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate,” McCarthy later told Capitol reporters, several news organizations reported.

“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down. It doesn’t work,” he added later.

McCarthy initially planned to accede to Greene’s demand but later reversed himself, telling reporters in the Capitol that he decided to keep the $300 million of Ukraine aid in the bill after recognizing that another spending measure — one that funds the State Department and foreign operations — also includes money for Kyiv, The Hill reported.

“I believe it’s Trump driven,” U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, said on social media on why Greene, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, who is running for president in 2024, opposes the funding sought by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “Putin put (Trump) in in ’16. He wants his help in ’24. Doesn’t care about America or democracy or Eastern Europe, only self.”

Burchett Part 2: No budget, no pay check

Burchett, meanwhile, won’t accept a paycheck if no federal budget deal is reached and a government shutdown results, he said.

“A government shutdown is right around the corner, yet our leaders fail to act,” the Knoxville Republican warned last week in a statement. “Now, we are going to punish hardworking Americans and once again exempt Congress. This is unacceptable.

“If we go into a shutdown I refuse to be paid until it’s over,” he said.

According to the Congressional Research Service, senators and representatives continue to be paid during a shutdown due to provisions in the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

“The senators and representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States,” Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution states.

That means they get paid even if other parts of the government don’t. The pay rate for members of Congress is set by a process set by federal law.

U.S. Senate dress code

Tennessee U.S. Sens. Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn are among 46 Republicans who have signed a letter objecting to Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s scuttling of the chamber’s dress code.

“Allowing casual clothing on the Senate floor disrespects the institution we serve and the American families we represent,” the Republicans wrote in their letter to the New York senator. “We the undersigned members of the United States Senate write to express our supreme disappointment and resolute disapproval of your recent decision to abandon the Senate’s longstanding dress code for members and urge you to immediately reverse this misguided action,” the senators said.

Hagerty also weighed in with a post on social media.

“Tennesseans are expected to dress for work & put on work uniforms every day,” Hagerty stated amid the GOP uproar over the change made by Schumer last week.

Schumer made the change in a nod to U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat with a penchant for wearing gym shorts, hoodies and sneakers. That’s what Fetterman often wore while he was lieutenant governor in the Keystone State.

Greene, one of the early critics, called the change “disgraceful” in a social media post.

“Dress code is one of society’s standards that set etiquette and respect for our institutions,” she wrote. “Stop lowering the bar!”

Fetterman fired back in a satiric post of his own saying the House lives by a “higher code of conduct.

“Displaying ding-a-ling pics in pubic hearings,” a reference to Greene’s action in July when she displayed a placard of sexually explicit pictures of Hunter Biden, the president’s son, during a House hearing over the younger Biden’s business dealings.

GOP members are trying to link Hunter Biden’s activities to his father.

Three Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Mark Kelly of Arizona, favor keeping the standards.

“We need to have standards when it comes to what we’re wearing on the floor of the Senate,” Durbin said on SiriusXM’s POTUS channel.

Contact Andy Sher at [email protected] or 615-285-9480.

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