Behind the scenes, Ron DeSantis is making things worse for Kevin McCarthy

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In the high-stakes fight that is threatening to shut down the federal government next month — and tear House Republicans apart — Ron DeSantis is taking sides.

The Florida governor spent about 30 minutes on the phone Wednesday with conservative Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Bob Good of Virginia — leaders of the cadre that is pushing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to embrace a shutdown if Democrats won’t agree to hard-right policy demands.

DeSantis’ message, according to a person familiar with the call: “I got your back. Keep fighting.”

The call is the latest signal that DeSantis is working to insert himself into the spending fight on the Hill in a bid to elevate his standing among Republican primary voters.

“Ron DeSantis knows that both parties — including the current and previous administration — are to blame for Washington’s reckless spending spree,” said DeSantis campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo. “He is urging congressional Republicans to hold the line in this current spending standoff and end days of rubber stamping multi-trillion dollar spending bills that harm the American people.”

DeSantis spent three terms in the House and is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, the hard-line group that is pushing McCarthy to fight harder against Democrats on spending and other members — and threatening his gavel if he doesn’t.

Still, it’s notable DeSantis is associating himself with McCarthy’s internal foes as tensions inside the House GOP reach a boiling point. Inside a closed-door conference meeting Thursday, McCarthy exploded at his critics.

“If you think you scare me because you want to file a motion to vacate, move the fucking motion,” he said, referring to the ouster maneuver that has been discussed by Good and other lawmakers.

The person who described the phone call did so on the condition of anonymity. A spokesperson for Roy, who has served as an informal leader of the conservative splinter group, declined to comment. A spokesperson for McCarthy did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on DeSantis’ role.

In other recent signs of his interest in the spending fight, DeSantis released a video knocking the “D.C. establishment” for spending too much. And in an interview with CBS’ Norah O’Donnell, he blamed both Democrats and Republicans for overspending.

DeSantis has shown much more attention to the spending clash than the GOP presidential frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, who has generally left McCarthy alone to handle fiscal matters.

Trump has recently been more interested in another aspect of internal House GOP politics — the push to impeach President Joe Biden, which was formalized by McCarthy on Tuesday after months of pressure from Trump and his allies.

Rachael Bade and Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.

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