Jonathan Swan and Annie Karni at NYT:
It was midway through Representative Kevin McCarthy’s drawn-out battle for the House speakership when Representative Jodey C. Arrington of Texas, one of his public supporters, began quietly approaching colleagues to see whether they would be open to backing his No. 2, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, instead.
The support was not there. When Mr. Arrington, a fourth-term Republican who chairs the Budget Committee, floated the idea with Representative Jim Banks of Indiana, for instance, the answer was a hard no. Mr. Banks promised to lead the opposition if Mr. Scalise tried to mount a serious challenge to Mr. McCarthy, according to two people who said Mr. Banks told them about the incident. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
Mr. McCarthy eventually won the speakership and promised not to bear grudges against the right-wing holdouts, who extracted major policy and personnel concessions in exchange for their votes. But the suspicions and divisions exposed during that process remain and are spilling out into the open as Mr. McCarthy faces his most consequential test: reaching a deal with President Biden to avert a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt as soon as this summer.
Mr. McCarthy has told colleagues he has no confidence in Mr. Arrington, the man responsible for delivering a budget framework laying out the spending cuts that Republicans have said they will demand in exchange for any move to increase the debt limit.
Aside from the perceived disloyalty, Mr. McCarthy regards Mr. Arrington, a former official in the George W. Bush administration, as incompetent, according to more than half a dozen people familiar with his thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
Mr. McCarthy has told colleagues and allies that he cannot rely on Mr. Scalise, describing the majority leader as ineffective, checked out and reluctant to take a position on anything, according to three Republican lawmakers with direct knowledge of his private comments who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them.