US Rep. De La Cruz blasts hardline Republicans as House speaker is ousted

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U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz speaks during a luncheon at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Disappointing. Frustrating. Unacceptable.

That’s how U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, R-McAllen, described the hyperpartisanship within her own political party that has put a stranglehold on progress in the nation’s capital.

Most recently, the unwillingness of hardline Republicans to negotiate with members of their own party, much less to reach across the aisle to Democrats, nearly catapulted the country into a government shutdown over the weekend.

And now, just three days after the U.S. House, with the aid of Democrats, was able to pass a stopgap spending bill, those hardliners moved forward and ousted Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.

Republicans succeeded in removing their own party colleague from the leadership position that took 15 tries for him to attain this past January, a first in congressional history.

But for De La Cruz — who, during her victory speech last November, pledged to represent all her constituents in the Rio Grande Valley, regardless of whether they voted for her — the infighting is only hurting those constituents.

“We’re doing the work and it is very hard for the American people to be able to see this telenovela play (out) with congressmen, like Matt Gaetz, who care more about securing media hits than securing our border,” De La Cruz said during a media call on Tuesday morning.

De La Cruz was referring to the weeks of political posturing — headed by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz — leading up to Saturday’s funding deadline.

If the House couldn’t reach a consensus by the midnight deadline, then paychecks to hundreds of thousands of federal workers would stop, including more than 60,000 border enforcement agents.

House Republicans proposed a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, on Friday.

“The continuing resolution had border security and it cut government spending by almost 10%. Unfortunately, because of some D.C. Republican politicians, it was struck down,” De La Cruz said.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pauses as he addresses reporters about efforts to pass appropriations bills and avert a looming government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. He is joined at right by House Homeland Security Chair Mark Green, R-Tenn., and Rep. Monica de la Cruz, R-Texas. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

The measure failed after 21 Republicans joined Democrats in voting down the funding bill, which De La Cruz said was “the most conservative resolution on the floor that has ever been seen.”

All the while, Gaetz stumped before the cameras for McCarthy’s removal, saying that he would move to vacate the Speaker’s seat.

With just a few hours to spare Saturday night, the House passed a 45-day stopgap measure that will provide continued federal funding through Nov. 17.

The continuing resolution passed because 209 Democrats joined with 126 Republicans to push it through. An additional 90 Republicans voted against it.

“But, unfortunately it did not contain Ukraine funding nor contain the border security that we so desperately need in Texas,” De La Cruz said.

The congresswoman described the impasse as “very disappointing” and blasted members of her own party, like Gaetz, criticizing them for their Beltway brinkmanship, which De La Cruz was careful to separate herself from.

“I ran for Congress for common sense solutions and to be able to work with people — not only within my party, but across the aisle — because we want a functioning government,” De La Cruz said.

And though she disagrees with the more conservative members of her party, De La Cruz made clear she still stands for Republican ideologies, especially when it comes to fiscal policy.

“We want to make sure that our nation’s budget is being reined in with the reckless spending that we have seen over the last two years,” she said, referring to the first half of Joe Biden’s presidency, when Democrats controlled both halves of Congress.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is surrounded by press and police on the way to the chamber, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

With De La Cruz’s election win last November, she became part of a class of lawmakers who, in January, flipped control of the House.

But since then, the GOP’s infighting has led to a crisis, the congresswoman said.

“It is really hurting not only the Republican Party, but it’s hurting our nation when congressmen like Matt Gaetz try to oust the Speaker of the House and stop the appropriations process,” De La Cruz said Tuesday morning.

Four hours after her call with the media, Gaetz made good on his threats as he stood on the House floor leading arguments to remove McCarthy from the highest leadership position in Congress.

Just before 4 p.m. Tuesday, the House voted to remove McCarthy by a vote of 216-210, with eight Republicans — including Gaetz — joining Democrats in ousting the Speaker.