The Jolt: Clyde among GOP hard-liners ready to vote against debt limit deal

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

President Joe Biden and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy may have reached an agreement on lifting the debt limit over the holiday weekend. But avoiding a default, which could happen as soon as Monday, will take some heavy lifting and perhaps arm-twisting over the next few days.

There are a growing number of far-right House Republicans who said they will not support the legislation McCarthy helped craft. While some dissent from progressive Democrats is also expected, Republican critics are drawing more attention because of the ramifications their unhappiness could have on McCarthy’s speakership.

Among those speaking against the measure is Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde.

Before the break, Clyde had told one of your Insiders that he hoped McCarthy would stand firm on the debt limit bill that House Republicans passed, which coupled a higher ceiling for about a year with steep cuts in federal spending.

After it became clear that the deal McCarthy and Biden struck would not go nearly as far but extends the debt limit through early 2025, Clyde wrote that he is a “hard NO on the disastrous debt ceiling deal.”

“Just look at what House Republicans passed last month — compared to what they’re settling for now,” the Athens Republican said in a post on Twitter. “Disappointing is an understatement.”

He told WDUN’s Martha Zoller this morning that the measure is “incredibly dangerous” by elevating the debt ceiling while incurring new debt.

“I just have a real problem with a completely open, unlimited debt ceiling,” said Clyde, who said there was significant pushback throughout the GOP ranks. “We gave Speaker McCarthy a strong hand ... and we got rolled.”

Depending on how many Democrats are willing to vote in favor of the legislation, McCarthy can lose a good chunk of his Republican caucus and still get the bill passed over to the Senate. But even if the math works on the legislation, the question will be whether Clyde and the other hard-liners are so upset with McCarthy they move to remove him as speaker.

Remember, Clyde was among more than a dozen conservatives who opposed McCarthy becoming speaker in the first place. They only caved after 15 rounds of voting and changes to House procedures they wanted, including giving any single member the ability to call for a “motion to vacate” the speakership.

But the focus today will be on Wednesday’s planned floor vote on the debt limit legislation, not McCarthy’s future as speaker.

He has lawmakers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, on his side. She is among the conservative House Freedom Caucus members who have indicated they support the bill.

McCarthy will also need Republicans who are considered more moderate in their approach, like Rep. Buddy Carter. He is planning to vote “yes” and said he would encourage other GOP members to do the same.

The Pooler resident told us Monday that Republicans should count the agreement as a victory because they were able to get Biden to the negotiating table.

“I think it’s a win for us,” Carter said. “Did we get everything we wanted? No, you never do. There are some significant spending cuts. We got some significant claw backs.”


MODEL CANDIDATE? We’re still not seeing any overt signs that Gov. Brian Kemp is planning a run for president. But more campaigns are openly talking about using his 2022 midterm election as a model.

In a leaked recording, Ron DeSantis’ pollster Ryan Tyson is heard reassuring the Florida governor’s donors that voters will be more concerned about the economy in 2024 than abortion rights.

During the call, which was obtained by, Tyson predicted that Democrats would continue to put abortion at the center of their campaign “regardless of what your position is.”

But Tyson said anti-abortion stances were only a “kill shot if you’re a piss-poor candidate.” He then pointed to Kemp’s victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams last year after approving a sweeping anti-abortion law.

“What the 2022 general election proved is that if you’re a good candidate you can survive that,” said Tyson. (What he didn’t note was that Kemp signed the measure in 2019 — before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.)

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is headed to Georgia next week, also may be borrowing from Kemp’s playbook. A super PAC launched by Pence’s allies is run by a former Kemp strategist who wants to replicate the governor’s strategy on a national level.


Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

BIG LABOR. An invitation for the upcoming “Speak Life Oratory Contest” for high school students caught our eyes, especially since the competition with anti-abortion themes includes cash prizes from the Georgia labor commissioner.

If you’re wondering what Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson has to do with the issue, he was a conservative state lawmaker before winning statewide office in November. During the 2022 legislative session, he introduced a measure to prevent women from receiving pregnancy termination medication through the mail.

According to an invitation reviewed by your Insiders, the oratory contest will be held at the state Capitol this week and hosted by state Sen. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, in conjunction with National Right to Life. A three-judge panel, including state Rep. Soo Hong, R-Lawrenceville, will evaluate the original student speeches, which must focus on one of the topics prescribed by the organization: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia/assisted suicide or stem cell research.

“The winners will receive significant rewards thanks to the generosity of Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson,” the invitation reads. Among the prizes from Thompson are cash, scholarship and travel funds to go on to the national competition in Pittsburgh next month.


Credit: Oliver Contreras/The New York Times

Credit: Oliver Contreras/The New York Times

GRADUATING WORDS. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock was the commencement speaker at Bard College in New York over the weekend. Warnock used a few anecdotes and quotes that would be familiar to anyone who has heard him campaign in Georgia.

We noticed this line on guns safety that was sharper than what we heard during his 2022 stump speeches, informed no doubt by his own children’s lockdown during the shooting in Midtown Atlanta last month:

When you see me challenging my colleagues to do more to rescue us from the terrible scourge of gun violence, I'm trying to make an impact and leave a legacy. Because I do not buy the lie that mass shootings are the necessary cost of freedom. It's a strange freedom that sends our children on lockdowns, every single day in this country.

- U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.

Warnock had to pause before beginning his remarks because at least two people in the crowd began chanting “stop Cop City.”

Apparently, some students at the liberal arts institution are aware of the protests in Atlanta over the planned public safety training facility and have taken the side of those who wish to halt construction.

“Bard College, you are living up to your reputation,” Warnock said, as the shouting continued. “What you’re witnessing is democracy in progress.”

Although he told the crowd he didn’t mind the interruption, after a couple of minutes he took control with a gentle rebuke even as one protester refused to quiet down.

“What I am hearing is a genuine expression of dissent in American democracy,” he said. “So, I ain’t mad at you; I just want to celebrate these graduates. Let’s give these graduates a round of applause.”



  • The U.S. House Rules Committee will meet to determine the path forward on the debt limit agreement.
  • House Freedom Caucus members will hold a noon news conference to speak on the debt limit bill.
  • The House will also hold evening floor votes on non-controversial legislation.
  • The U.S. Senate also returns today but doesn’t yet have any votes scheduled.
  • President Joe Biden has no public events scheduled but will surely continue his behind-the-scenes press on the debt limit legislation.


Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

CALLING ALL VETS. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson announced last week that he’s searching for a new constituent services staffer for his district office in Decatur. But Johnson specified that the position for a veterans and military casework specialist isn’t open to just anyone. He’s looking for a veteran to fill the position.

The two-year, full time paid position is a part of the Green & Gold Congressional Aide Program established by the House of Representatives in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Program to provide employment opportunities for veterans within member offices.

Details about qualifications and how to apply are available on the House of Representatives’ website.


Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

FINAL RESTING PLACE. His remains were identified 73 years after he was killed in action, and on Memorial Day, Luther Story was reinterred in Georgia near the place he called home.

Story died during the Korean War. The White House announced in April that his remains had finally been matched through DNA testing. Originally, he was buried as an unknown soldier at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

The Buena Vista native was buried on Monday with military honors and a marked grave at Andersonville National Cemetery.

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Our colleague Jeremy Redmon also discovered an interesting tie that Story had to former President Jimmy Carter. Story’s surviving family member, niece Judy Wade, said the Story family farmed on land owned by Carter’s father in Sumter County.

Redmon spoke to Jill Stuckey, superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, who said Carter, who is now in hospice care, knew about Story and was pleased to hear his remains had been identified.

“He remembered Luther, and he was happy that Luther was coming home,” Stuckey said.


Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY. It’s time to meet Bella Ballard, the standard poodle who calls GOP state Rep. (and Jolt subscriber) Bethany Ballard her person.

The Ballards live in Warner Robins when Rep. Ballard isn’t deployed to the state Capitol or her husband isn’t deployed elsewhere in the world as an Air Force colonel.

And a well-placed source tells us that Bella is not just a long-legged beauty, she has excellent taste in podcasts, as a devoted listener to Politically Georgia. Good dog, Bella!

Send us your animals of any political persuasion to, or DM us on Twitter @MurphyAJC.


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