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Head of GOP Main Street Caucus shares insight on debt talks, party’s ‘5 families’

May 25, 2023

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With just days to go ahead of a potential government default, House Republicans are charting a path to ensure they can secure the 218 votes needed to raise the debt ceiling. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., can’t do that alone. He has to get input from the heads of “the five families,” who are leaders that represent the different ideological wings of the party. 

Straight Arrow News Political Correspondent Ray Bogan spoke with chairman of the Main Street Caucus, Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., on a walk from the Capitol to his office. 

Bogan: Could you give us some insight as to how these five caucuses came together to take the position that you created to go over to the White House with as a party?

Johnson: There have always been different caucuses and different groups within the House. I think what’s really different is the extent to which Kevin McCarthy has really embraced these groups, understood that we can help him understand what the 222 members of the Republican conference think and believe. He has a better sense of the pulse of this conference than any other member I’ve ever served with. And I think a big part of that is because he’s talking every single day to the leaders of the five families. I think it’s making a big difference. It’s making us a lot more cohesive as a team.

Bogan: When they bring their final package back from the White House, do you have a risk of defections?

Johnson: Well, I’ve always viewed this as a four-stage plan. The first is we had to get to the president of the table. We did that. Secondly, we have to get momentum, we have just started to do that. Third is we’ve got to get a deal. The fourth is we got to get the votes. I think it’s a fool’s errand to analyze any of the four gets before they’re ripe. I mean, right now we’re on the second get, talk to me about the fourth get once we’re through the second.

Bogan: There’s some polling that is coming out that’s showing that the American people believe Kevin McCarthy is negotiating in good faith. But there’s also some polling that shows the American people want a clean debt ceiling. What is the look forward here from the perspective of what the public is thinking?

Johnson: This is bigger than polling. This is about the future of the United States of America. This is about staving off insolvency. This is about making sure that we return fiscal sanity. I know that the American people, once this deal is done, are gonna appreciate the fact that Republicans tried to make sure we moved in the right direction.

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With just days to go ahead of a potential government default, House Republicans are charting a path to ensure they can secure the 218 votes needed to raise the debt ceiling. 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy can’t do that alone, he has to get input from the heads of the so-called five families, 

or leaders who represent the different ideological wings of the party. 

We caught up with the Congressman Dusty Johnson, who is the chairman of the mainstreet caucus on a walk from the Capitol back to his office. 

 

Ray: 

There are five caucuses within the Republican Conference. Yeah, you are the chairman of the Mainstreet comp caucus. Could you give us some insight as to how these five caucuses came together to take the position that you created to go over to the White House with as a party?

 

Rep. Johnson: 

Yeah, the, you know, listen, there have always been different caucuses and different groups within the House. I think what’s really different is the extent to which Kevin McCarthy has really embraced these groups, understood that we can help him understand what the 222 members of the Republican conference, think and believe he has a better sense of the pulse of this conference than any other member I’ve ever served with. And I think a big part of that is because he’s talking every single day to the leaders of the five families. I think it’s making a big difference. It’s making us a lot more cohesive as a team.

 

Ray:

Do you think there’s a risk of defections when you get back from the white when they bring their final package back from the White House? Do you have a risk of defections?

 

Rep. Johnson: 

Well, I’ve always viewed this as a four stage plan. The first is, you know, we had to get momentum. We’ve done that. The second is we had to get the president to the I’m sorry, the first four guests. The first is we had to get to the president of the table. We did that. Secondly, we have to get momentum we have just started to do that. Third is we’ve got to get a deal. The fourth is we got to get the votes. I think it’s a fool’s errand to analyze any of the four gets before they’re right. I mean, right now we’re on the second get talk to me about the fourth get Once we’re through the second


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters he’s optimistic they’ll get a deal done but they have not agreed to anything yet. He also said Americans who rely on government payments should not worry about making a backup plan. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.

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