Trump's call to suspend Constitution not a 2024 deal-breaker, leading House Republican says

Still, Rep. Dave Joyce said on "This Week" that Trump's idea was "fantasy."

December 4, 2022, 1:06 PM

Republican Ohio Rep. Dave Joyce said Sunday that he didn't want to be drawn into commenting on Donald Trump's recent call to suspend the Constitution over baseless claims of 2020 election fraud.

Joyce, the chair of the Republican Governance Group, a centrist group in the House, was asked by ABC "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos to respond to Trump's post on Saturday on his Truth Social platform. The former president wrongly asserted that the "massive fraud" -- which did not occur -- "allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution."

Joyce initially declined to respond, saying he didn't know what Trump said on social media and that the public wasn't "interested in looking backwards." But Stephanopoulos pressed further, and Joyce ultimately said that Trump's comment should be taken "in context" but that it wouldn't prevent him from supporting Trump if he ends up winning the nomination.

"It's early. I think there's going to be a lot of people in the primary ... [but] I will support whoever the Republican nominee is," Joyce said while noting he didn't think Trump would manage to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination because there are "a lot of other good quality candidates out there."

"That's a remarkable statement," Stephanopoulos said. "You just said you'd support a candidate who's come out for suspending the Constitution."

"Well, you know, he says a lot of things," Joyce said, adding, "I can't be really chasing every one of these crazy statements that come from any of these candidates."

"You can't come out against someone who's for suspending the Constitution?" Stephanopoulos pushed back once again.

"He says a lot of things, but that doesn't mean that it's ever going to happen. So you got to [separate] fact from fantasy -- and fantasy is that we're going to suspend the Constitution and go backwards. We're moving forward," Joyce said.

PHOTO: In this Sept. 29, 2014, file photo, Rep. Dave Joyce speaks at a GOP Get Out the Vote rally in Independence, Ohio.
In this Sept. 29, 2014, file photo, Rep. Dave Joyce speaks at a GOP Get Out the Vote rally in Independence, Ohio.
Mark Duncan/AP, FILE

Elsewhere in the interview, he told Stephanopoulos that with a newly-won Republican majority in the House, the group that he leads will focus on kitchen-table issues.

In July, Joyce was unanimously elected chair of the Republican Governance Group, which he has said is "hellbent on breaking through Washington's dysfunction."

"Our group is basically focused on making government work," Joyce told Stephanopoulos when asked about how much leverage his group holds and how they plan to use it in a divided government. "We're not the people who you see on TV every week talking about issues that aren't germane to what the people are feeling at home."

Joyce cited the education system, gas prices and how inflation was driving up the cost of living -- all similar to what incoming House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries mentioned in his own appearance on "This Week" on Sunday.

"What are the specific pieces of legislation you can work on together?" Stephanopoulos asked Joyce.

"We have to set a budget ... and then we have to do the appropriations process," he said. "You all talk about different things but at the end of the day, we're going to do our job and put 12 appropriations bills out there."

Joyce sits on a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee responsible for funding the federal government. He said the spending bills in a Republican House will be "lower than what's happened in the last four years."

Shifting to Kevin McCarthy's bid for speaker, Stephanopoulos noted that he may not have the necessary support next month with five Republicans in the 222-seat majority having said publicly they won't back him.

"Does he have the votes? How will he get there?" Stephanopoulos asked.

Joyce, like other leading Republicans, said McCarthy proved he "deserves the opportunity" and "has done the hard work that was necessary to bring together the majority."

"You can't beat somebody with nobody. And right now, you hear that we're just not going to vote for Kevin. Well, then who?" he said.

He said compromise would have to prevail among centrists and hardliners in order to accomplish things.

"What these people got to get used to is that if a majority of our conference agree to something, then that's how you move the ball forward. And just because five or six people don't like it doesn't mean that we should hold up the whole thing," Joyce said.

Echoing Jeffries, he played down the possibility that some Democrats would join Republicans in backing an alternative to McCarthy.

"I think the Democrats are going to vote for Democrats, Republicans will vote for Republicans," Joyce said. "And I think, at the end of the day, Kevin will be the next speaker of the House."