AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
Throughout a contentious multi-day battle over who would become the next Speaker of the House, the mainstream media and some establishment Republicans suggested that the debate was “pointless” and only served to damage Republicans’ image with voters. But as the recent rules package passed by the House and the first few votes of the 118th Congress have made clear, the delay actually delivered a number of important victories for conservatives and showed that Republicans are more than capable of pulling together despite internal differences.
With just a four-seat majority, the biggest challenge facing new Speaker Kevin McCarthy will be keeping his caucus together – a task at which the past few Republican Speakers have had at best mixed success, even with larger majorities. However, the fact that McCarthy was able to ultimately pull House Republicans together behind him should perhaps not be cause for concern, but rather optimism among Republicans. After all, Nancy Pelosi, who despite her flaws was largely successful at holding her caucus together, only earned 216 votes for Speaker in 2020 – the same number that McCarthy earned earlier this month. McCarthy also had fewer defections in the final vote than the previous two Republican Speakers, Paul Ryan and John Boehner.
McCarthy was ultimately able to overcome opposition from Freedom Caucus-type Republicans by doing what any good Speaker should – promising to remain accountable to various factions within his party and ensure all have a voice in the decision-making process.
The biggest subject of debate, and the biggest victory for Republican holdouts, came on the rules package that will govern the proceedings of the House for the 118th Congress. On Monday, the updated rules package breezed through the chamber, with just one Republican voting with every House Democrat to oppose the rules.
Some of the most important changes from a policy perspective implemented by the new rules are aimed at reigning in runaway federal spending, the first attempt by House Republicans to address the ongoing inflation crisis. These include: the return of “CUTGO,” which requires bills that call for new spending to find offsetting spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget; ending the practice of allowing the House to automatically increase the debt ceiling through passage of a budget resolution; and the so-called “Holman Rule,” which allows lawmakers to cut agency budgets or even the salaries of specific federal employees when appropriations bills are being considered. All of these policies had been stripped out of the House rules under the prior Democrat majority.
As part of a deal with the Freedom Caucus holdouts, McCarthy also agreed to include provisions requiring that the full text of bills be available 72 hours prior to a scheduled vote so that members may read the legislation. Over the past few years, Democrats have repeatedly rammed through legislation thousands of pages long spending trillions of dollars with only a few hours for lawmakers to read the full text.
The most significant change from a procedural perspective is the revival of a rule allowing a single member to initiate a “privileged motion to vacate the chair.” In effect, this allows any lawmaker to force a snap vote to remove the Speaker – something that several Freedom Caucus members said was a necessary “insurance policy” to hold McCarthy, or any Republican Speaker, accountable should they fail to uphold their commitments to the caucus and GOP voters.
Along with a number of other provisions expanding the House’s oversight authority, raising the threshold required to pass bills increasing taxes, and ending proxy voting, these new House rules create a far more democratic legislative body that disperses power among individual members rather than concentrating it in the hands of leadership. This fundamental shift from Democrats’ consolidation of power in the hands of Pelosi and her team is largely due to changes negotiated by the McCarthy holdouts.
In addition, the speakership battle has already led to a number of votes that have crystalized the ideological divide between Republicans and Democrats – an important messaging tool for conservatives heading into 2024. This week, the House passed a bill to protect babies born alive as the result of failed abortions, a resolution condemning attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers, and a resolution establishing a select subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government, all votes demanded by the House Freedom Caucus. While the “born alive” bill has no chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate, in all three cases every House Democrat voted “no,” putting them on the record as opposing stances that most Americans would likely agree with.
Republicans are also set to vote on a bill abolishing the IRS and eliminating the income tax – two more popular proposals advanced by McCarthy’s opponents that Democrats will no doubt oppose.
From a broader perspective, the debate over who would become Speaker was also a victory for the original idea of what the House of Representatives should be – a group of lawmakers defending the interests of their voters, which are not always the same as the interests of a national political party. McCarthy and his allies had to work with their opponents to reach a compromise by conceding certain points and discussing the merits of various proposals. In the Republican Party at least, independent thinking and vigorous debate is alive and well.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.
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It never ceases to amaze me, that sound fiscal policies are not always adhered too, irrespective of who has had the majority in one or both Houses of Congress. Hence, look where we as a Republic, find ourselves. A massive National Debt, which in itself, is a clear and dangerous threat to America’s existence, as a free Republic! I can’t remember the last time “We the People“ had a balanced budget! The rule changes in the new House of Representatives is a promising start! Let us dare have hope that they will lay the foundations of sound fiscal discipline to which no party wants to change ever again, unless a majority from both Chambers have agreed to it!
Thank you for going out into the weeds to explain something important that just happened. This is what journalism is supposed to be about–informing the public. Really appreciate information rather than opinion.
That’s right it was not pointless.
Since it was also hilarious I could have watched 20 more rounds of it lol
Wow! somebody gets it. That was just a quick look into how sausages and good governments are made. Way to go Shane!
I for one am glad that Conservatives held up the process. The MSM, DemocRats and R.I.N.O.s can “go pound sand” as my friend Rush used to say ;)
To Shane Harris, Great article, especially the last sentence , ” In the Republican Party at least , independent thinking and vigorous debate is alive and well .” That statement provides hope, optimistic thought for better days ahead. If anyone ever thinks in terms of perfect situations , especially in politics , I am ready to ask them what planet they are referring to , as I see it there is no perfect anything here on Earth . So, looking at the vast configuration of the developments concerning this 118 th Congress there is reason to think optimistically and have a healthy sense of hope for much needed improvement . It is always good for having a realistic perspective to keep in mind the history of whatever endeavor is being engaged in, so I would suggest to the Republican members of Congress to read up on, to research the developments during the President Ronald Reagan administration for guidance.
Its been a great two weeks in the House while the Senate is comatose. I love the brawls that occurred last week and hope to see many more of them. Fights cause good things to happen.
I abhor the idea of allowing one rep to vote to remove the Speaker. Just dumb. The Dims could
propose this 212 times per day. RIght ? I hope for clarification on this.
I love “CUTGO” as mentioned in the article and pray for a vote to cut federal spending by 5% every
year for the next 10 years. Businesses do this all the time which is the real world. I would love
to see DC introduced to the real world. Yea I know. Keep praying.,
One rep can put forth a ” motion to vacate” they can’t remove the speaker, the whole of GOP has to vote on the motion!!!!
I wish the Republicans all the best luck. They seem to be dysfunctional when given the power to lead
Definitely wasn’t pointless. I found out that my new RINO representative, Max Miller, isn’t any better than my old scumbag RINO Representative, Anthony Gonzalez. I’m seriously ready to leave the Republican Party.
Where ya gonna go Sid? Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face. Stand strong Brother!
And go where? Conservatives should keep putting pressure on RINO’s and praying that they grow a pair.
…may at least pass some common sense proposals that can perhaps open eyes to how far we’ve fallen!
Yea for the 20 holdouts from the FREEDOM CAUCUS❣️????????❣️ At last, some GOOD NEWS about the positive work behind the delay and the corrective benefits possible‼️ Now, if ONLY the Senate will agree!???? STILL the House may at l
The Freedom Caucus are usually members who were supported by The Club for Growth.
A baby born alive should always be protected as a Civil Right to Life!
What evil to STOP protection for a human life strong enough to survive his or her Mother’s attempted abortion.
If IRS is abolished and no one pays income taxes, how will the U. S. pay their employees and their bills? Just curious.
Florida residence pay no income taxes and they are a Free State.
No income tax, just consumption tax on what you purchase. Here’s an excerpt from an article from TaxFoundation .org…Florida Tax Rates, Collections, and BurdensFlorida does not have a state individual income tax. Florida has a 5.50 percent corporate income tax. Florida has a 6.00 percent state sales tax rate, a max local sales tax rate of 2.00 percent, and an average combined state and local sales tax rate of 7.01 percent.
Grace: Thank you. You know that the only 2 certainties are death and taxes. This nation
needs the IRS more than oxygen or food. Those who desire that more be paid to the fed could, if
they choose, pay more than their fair tax bill. That way they could help to solve the problem they
complain about and thus feel better. Correct ?
We will all be taxed on consumption of new things. If you buy a used car or a house that has already been lived in, no taxes. Only new things, cars, food drugs, yachts, whatever, are taxed.
This is a truly fair tax because the rich will pay the most.
Also every citizen will get a rebate for necessities. One of the best things about the Fair Tax is that non citizens do not get those subsidies so they will pay for expenses and taxes but get no help from the government to offset any of that.This is the anti Biden rule. We do not subsidize illegals. We make then pay without our help.
I think we are heading in the right direction, and the process was not pointless, it is the process. Just because Nancy P intimidated her party into voting her in without thought, doesn’t mean they wanted her. They were afraid of her and they had no guts. I for one am glad they put the nix on the IRS funding, and kicking Schiff and Stalwall off commitees is great. The GOP can’t fix the last 2 years of spiraling disaster in a month, but bravo for what they have done, so far.
Which republican voted with the democrats on the rules package?
Tony Gonzales, TX, was the only R to vote against the package.
Japan knitting small state of Israel beanie made in Japan for their love of prime minister Benjamin president, while USA being flooded fentanyl drug cartel yellow fever.
How about we fix the economy now rather than get distracted by other issues? The economy getting fixed is what Americans want.
Well it seems that some don’t care about the economy. Ask Americans in any state and it will be the top issue by far.
The GOP controlled House has NO ABILITY to get the Executive Branch to change any of the disastrous policies that have been enacted over the last 2 years. The $1.7 trillion dollar omnibus bill, that McConnell and 17 other RINOs in the Senate helped the Democrats get passed last year, fully funds the federal government for all of fiscal 2023. Thus the power of the purse, the most powerful weapon the House has to get the Executive Branch to reconsider its policies, has been wiped out for this year. Next year is an election year and I can guarantee you that McCarthy won’t have the stomach to do anything in an election year.
No legislation the House GOP passes this year and likely next year as well will get through the Democrat controlled Senate. Even if by some massive mistake on the Democrats’ part in the Senate, they vote to pass something the House has sent them, Biden will simply veto the bill when it reaches his desk. If you want the economy fixed, then the American people shouldn’t have allowed a Democrat back in the White House in the first place.
Hopefully, this Nation will open their eyes and see how the Democratic Leftist
This is how I view things, which may or may not be very popular, but I don’t care:
The House Freedom Caucus members are the only true fiscal and constitutional conservatives in the House of Representatives. They are the only Republicans who actually stand up and fight for spending restraints and smaller, less intrusive government on a continual basis. That is reflected in how they vote, which is where the rubber hits the road. The vast majority of the rest of Republicans in both the House and Senate may talk about fiscal restraint and constitutional boundaries of the federal government during re-election cycles, but when it comes down to following up that talk with a matching action, most fall way short of being anything but Democrat-lite in most cases.
Nothing the Freedom Caucus asked for was either outrageous or in any way radical. Most of the items were simply about restoring the normal rules that Nancy Pelosi had opted to throw out when the Democrats took control back of the House. Anything that served as a safeguard or a means to shed transparency on how legislation was crafted or enacted was tossed in the garbage can by Nancy Pelosi. Under her reign, bills were crafted by a half dozen, hand selected members loyal to her behind closed doors. Then the legislation was usually dropped on the floor of the House for a vote at the 11th hour before some major item was about to expire. That’s not a representative republic serving the people they took an oath to represent. That is essentially a dictatorship being masked as “must pass” legislation being rammed down the throats of the American public. So sorry, but if McCarthy wasn’t smart enough to iron out all these issues after the midterms and before last week. That is on him and NOT on the only members of the House actually consistently fighting for the American people.
I care a whole lot more about the price of gas than who is speaker.
Then… you… should care who the speaker is.
I answered you above. Elections have consquences and one of the consequences of the 2020 elections was the enactment of numerous executive orders by Biden and a handful of economically devestating legislation crafted by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House enacted into law after being passed in the Senate. One of those results is higher gas prices. So yes, who the Speaker of the House is does actually effect all sorts of things.
I see it in a similar manner. The 20 or so members of the Freedom Caucus are exactly what the founding fathers had in mind for a Constitutional republic. They’re spinning in their graves knowing that an overwhelming number of congressmen are in government for power, pork, or personal enrichment. My goodness, what they would think of the woke idiots trying to decide on which pronouns to use…
What keeps this country upright is adherence to principle. I have no respect for those who lick their fingers and hold them up to the wind.
Neither do I. If someone decides they want to be a public servant, then that means doing what is constitutionally right for the people that sent you to Washington. Way too many professional politicians don’t even know what that means. It’s all about self-enrichment and personal power, with the people back home holding the short end of the stick.
I do agree with this article, as well as the comments. Lots of reasonable, rational people out here in the USA.