Two North Carolina Republicans from bordering districts, both representing the Asheville area, are engaged in a battle of confidence heading into a critical government funding vote Thursday.
House Chief Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry confidently asserted Thursday afternoon as he headed to vote on a rule setting up debate on a four-week continuing resolution, which passed, that the stopgap would pass the House later that evening with GOP votes and without any changes.
“We’ll have the Republicans votes to pass it,” he said.
His district neighbor, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, rebuffed that assessment with equal bravado.
“He has Democrats then, because I’m confident of my whip,” Meadows said when told of McHenry’s comments.
“If he’s saying he has enough Republican votes, I can give you a list of people to go to verify that that’s not going to happen,” he added.
When reporters requested a copy of that list, Meadows held up his whip card and said, “I promise you he doesn’t have the votes.” He then got into an elevator to head to a Freedom Caucus meeting where conservatives were to continue discussing their tactical play.
McHenry was certainly aware that many Freedom Caucus members are opposed to the CR. He predicted they would be with the rest of the conference “at the end of the day” even though leadership is not accepting any of the changes to the package they’ve offered.
“They have come in a sense of goodwill,” the chief deputy whip said. “They’re trying to add to this discussion. It’s been very productive. Great engagement on this, some things we can do, some things we can’t do, but really helpful in the process overall.”
Despite complimenting members for offering “good suggestions,” McHenry said the CR would move ahead without changes.
“Because we’re ready and we’ve got it on the floor,” he said.
McHenry said he was even more confident headed into Thursday’s vote than he was on the past two CR votes in December, saying that Senate Democrats’ posturing against the measure has helped.
“What the Senate Democrats are really doing is putting us together as a team,” he said. “Their tactics are actually not getting them what they want out of the House, which is for us to fail. Their bluff in the Senate is not real.”
The entire House GOP leadership and whip team has been corralling votes on the CR but McHenry said Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who has not been present at the Capitol since his surgery last week, has been the closer.
“Getting a call from Whip Scalise from his hospital bed, that kind of works,” McHenry said with a smile.