My VIP for this week is newly elected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He claims the record for giving the longest speech in Congress. Now he holds the record for standing firm through fifteen rounds of voting since the Civil War. In the process of convincing the twenty Republican “terrorists” to vote for him, McCarthy made several concessions that could make him a weaker Speaker.
Tonight, the Republican-controlled House approved a sweeping rules package in an effort to control government spending by reining in the bureaucracy. The rules package passed the House by a vote of 220 to 213 – with all Democrats opposing it and all but one Republican favoring it. These are the “biggest takeaways from the new House rules” according to Fred Lucas.
1. Motion to Vacate the Chair.
A rule change that gained significant attention was allowing a single House member to make a “motion to vacate the chair,” meaning any member of the majority party could force a vote to remove the House speaker. It actually restores a longstanding rule, however.
McCarthy resisted this change, but the single-member rule was in force until 2019, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., faced a resistant caucus shortly after Democrats regained the House majority in the 2018 election….
2. Controlling Spending and Taxing
McCarthy also made concessions to rebellious House conservatives aimed at controlling federal spending.
Though it’s not in the rules package, the California Republican agreed to cap government spending at the fiscal year 2022 level for the next decade….
The new rules require a separate House vote to increase the debt limit, which is the total amount of money the federal government may borrow….
On another front, the House rules would require a supermajority of the 435 lawmakers to pass increases in federal income tax rates.
The rules also replace the “pay as you go” approach, which in theory would hike taxes to pay for new spending, with a “cut as you go” model to halt legislation that would increase mandatory spending within a five-year or 10-year period.
The GOP rules package includes provisions for more accurate fiscal analysis of bills to consider the economic impact, or dynamic scoring, while requiring the Congressional Budget Office to estimate whether legislation would increase direct spending in the so-called outyears….
3. Major Investigations
The new House rules also call for a resolution to establish a select subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government, in order to look into alleged politicization of the FBI, the IRS, and other government agencies.
This probe likely would include the FBI’s investigation of, and raid of the Florida home of, former President Donald Trump. But it also likely would include the FBI’s role in social media censorship and overtures that the Justice Department and FBI made about investigating parents who spoke out at local school board meetings.
Separately, the rules package calls for the House Oversight and Reform Committee to establish a subcommittee to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic….
4. Tackling the Swamp
The rules package also reinstates the “Holman Rule” to rein in the federal bureaucracy. The rule first was adopted by the House in 1876, at a time when civil service reform was popular and distrust of the federal bureaucracy was growing.
House Democrats rescinded the rule in 1983, but it was reinstated by a Republican-controlled House in 2017. Democrats eliminated the rule when they took over the chamber in 2019.
The rule allows amendments to spending bills to cut certain programs, reduce the salaries of federal employees, or fire specific employees.
5. Reviewing Bills for 72 Hours
The new House rules require 72 hours of notice before voting on new legislation, as a means to try to eliminate backroom deals. This also would give lawmakers time to read legislation.
In May 2020, Democrats’ House majority adopted “same day authority” to force a vote on a bill the day it was introduced.
6. Committee Appointments
As part of the agreement that McCarthy cut with the conservative rebels, though not specified in the new rules, three of the nine seats on the powerful House Rules Committee will go to members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
The Rules Committee has a big say in whether bills and amendments are brought to the floor.
7. Votes on Conservative Priorities
The new rules would allow votes to block taxpayer funding of abortions, or of abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood….
The rules also call for a vote to rescind $72 billion from a recent Democrat spending bill that would be used to hire and pay 87,000 more Internal Revenue Service agents.
The House also will vote on prohibiting the sale of fuel from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China.
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