Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader trying to lock up the elusive votes needed to be the House speaker over a narrow Republican majority, delivered a barbed, roughly 25-minute speech in opposition to the sprawling package. He directly criticized the retiring lawmakers who crafted the measure, pilloried the proxy voting system that lawmakers in both parties used to avoid voting in person and lamented the opaqueness of the laborious process that led to the release of the sprawling package this week.
“This monstrosity is one of the most shameful acts I have ever seen in this body,” Mr. McCarthy said, ticking through what he called the worst parts of the legislation. That list included the increase in spending for domestic programs, some of the projects requested by Democrats like Mr. Leahy and Ms. DeLauro, and what he condemned as “woke handouts.”
The speech came as several far-right lawmakers, including those who have not yet publicly committed to supporting Mr. McCarthy’s speakership, have pledged to not only oppose the spending package but the legislative priorities of any Republican senator who voted for the measure.
After Mr. McCarthy concluded to a standing ovation from some Republicans gathered in the chamber, Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, a Democrat and the chairman of the Rules Committee, stood up and shot back, “after listening to that, it’s clear he doesn’t have the votes yet.”
Of the nine Republicans who broke with Mr. McCarthy and his top lieutenants to vote for the measure, two are set to return to Congress next month: Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Steve Womack of Arkansas. One Democrat, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, opposed the measure; another, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, voted present.
Aides and staff members could be seen carting papers and materials across the building in preparation for the transition of power next month and the departure of retiring lawmakers.
Even before the short debate over the legislation ended, lawmakers were lined up to vote, eager to leave for the holidays and the remainder of the year. As the vote was called, the few Democrats who remained broke into applause.
Aishvarya Kavi and Noah Weiland contributed reporting.