Incoming House Majority Leader Steve Scalise sent a letter Friday to the Republican conference outlining the agenda for the first few weeks of the session of the Republicans’ tiny new majority. That is, if they can actually get a speaker elected, because they can’t do any business at all until that’s accomplished.
Once they get past that hurdle, Scalise promises they’ll “begin bringing up meaningful, ‘ready-to-go’ legislation” that will “address challenges facing hard-working families on issues ranging from energy, inflation, border security, life, taxpayer protection, and more.”
It probably won’t come as a big surprise that the bills Scalise lists in his letter don’t do any of that. He also omits as “and more” three pieces of punitive, politicized abortion legislation. They sure learned their lesson from November!
RELATED STORY: Republicans lament—if only they had talked more about abortion
That forced birth agenda includes codifying the long-standing Hyde Amendment that prevents federal funding for abortion and “funding for any insurance plan that includes abortion on demand.” That’s private health insurance coverage they’re talking about. They’ll also vote on a cruel “born-alive” bill that would require medical personnel provide care to infants born with conditions that will keep them from surviving outside the womb for any amount of time, torturing the babies in their only minutes on Earth with futile medical interventions and preventing parents from having the experience of being with their newborn for whatever time they’ll live. It’s just sick.
Speaking of sick, they have a gotcha bill to try to force Democrats on the record “condemning the recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches.” Recent attacks? On churches for being “pro-life”? In the U.S.? Outside of the synagogues and the Black churches, that is.
They do have some energy-related bills, mostly attempting to tie President Joe Biden’s hands if we’re faced with another oil shortage with a bill that “prohibits non-emergency drawdowns of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve without a plan to increase energy production on federal lands.” Sorry, America, you can’t have both affordable gas and pristine national parks and recreation areas.
There’s also plenty of immigrant-bashing to be had, including a bill that “requires the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICS) to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and relevant local law enforcement when a firearm transferee is illegally present in the United States.” So they found a gun restriction that they can support on a thing that probably never happens.
Oh, and they’ll try to repeal the increase in funding for the IRS that Democrats passed this year. They sure don’t want the agency to be able to investigate their well-heeled donors for tax fraud.
None of this is necessary. All of this was rejected by the American people in November. And none of it will make it to the Senate floor. But the Republicans don’t actually care about making policy. They want to score political points and give their shrinking base of fanatical bigots, because that’s all they got.
What better way to start the year than by previewing the biggest contests of 2023 on this week's episode of The Downballot? Progressives will want to focus on a Jan. 10 special election for the Virginia state Senate that would allow them to expand their skinny majority; the April 4 battle for the Wisconsin Supreme Court that could let progressives take control from conservatives; Chicago's mayoral race; gubernatorial contests in Kentucky and Louisiana; and much, much more.