Emmer Uses Hockey-Style Tactics to Secure House GOP Votes on Debt Limit

Hockey brawls to debt limit: Emmer wrangles House GOP votes

Republican Rep. Tom Emmer has a unique perspective on his new job as House Majority Whip. After having helped lead his party back into control of the House in November, Emmer must now round up votes from those Republicans in order to pass GOP priorities. With Republicans holding only 222 seats in the 435-member House, almost everyone is needed to reach the 218 votes needed for approving most bills. Just agreeing to elect California Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the House speaker took 15 ballots. Emmer was a central negotiator in that effort.His most applicable professional experience comes from coaching hockey. When McCarthy failed to win the speaker’s race on the first votes, Emmer convened the holdouts in his still new Capitol office. He told the story of a fabled hockey coach who would let players fight it out during practices — almost encouraging it, he said — much the way Republicans nearly came to blows on the House floor during the speaker’s election.Emmer is now bracing for budget battles. Republicans agreed to aim for a balanced budget in 10 years, and to return to federal spending to 2022 budget levels. This would amount to an 8% reduction in domestic defense, veterans and domestic accounts — or even more, 17%, if the Pentagon money is spared.The biggest challenge Emmer will face is rounding up the votes for the coming debt ceiling showdown. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in an Associated Press interview Saturday that she expects Congress will ultimately vote to increase the cap. But she said GOP demands for spending cuts in return for backing an increase are “a very irresponsible thing to do” and risk creating a “self-imposed calamity” for the global economy.From Emmer’s point of view, much of what was agreed to with the holdouts is “aspirational.” He believes defense should largely be spared from cuts. His job is to make sure that once the plan is ready for primetime, they get it across the finish line.