It’s Day Two on the march to fascism in the House of Representatives under Republican rule, after their internal struggle last week to put a figurehead in the Speaker’s seat. On Monday, they passed a rules package that guarantees more chaos and a government shutdown.
Given the major fight the GOP had with itself over the nuclear option of House organizing—the motion to vacate the chair—it’s pretty much guaranteed that Kevin McCarthy’s hold on that gavel will be questioned. Republicans pointed out during the debate that, actually, the ability of a single member to call for a no-confidence in the Speaker has always been there, and this was no big deal, which is true as far as it goes. Until the Freedom Caucus seized on the mechanism in 2015, the motion to vacate was just sitting there, inert. Now it’s been weaponized because McCarthy allowed it to be.
They also passed a series of budget rules that will guarantee a confrontation with the Democratic Senate and White House when it comes time to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government, guaranteeing a government shutdown. They didn’t put in writing that they want to trigger a government shutdown, but they’ve made no bones that that’s what they’re itching for—that fight. And because they are so fiscally conservative, they also passed that bill to strip the IRS of the $70 billion it received last year in the big end-of-the-year funding package, a move that would add $114 billion to the deficit over the next decade.
They’re following up on Tuesday by authorizing Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan’s new McCarthy-style witch trial committee (Joe McCarthy, that is). They call it the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” in which they will weaponize the House against perceived political enemies.
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Those enemies would be the people investigating Donald Trump, the insurrectionists, and any other MAGA entity. This committee will have to fight the Department of Justice in courts, as Laura Clawson pointed out, because Justice will not just hand over information on its “ongoing criminal investigations.”
Which is why, in addition to authorizing this committee, Republicans reinstated a thing called the Holman Rule in their rules package. That allows them to target and defund single individuals, offices, and agencies in the federal government. Any investigator or prosecutor of a MAGA Republican (or a wealthy donor to the GOP) will be the target, the House GOP defunding their salaries and operating budgets. Except, of course, they can’t—because there’s a Democratic Senate and a White House which won’t go along with that. Here’s where people need to let the MAGA example be their guide—ignore the subpoenas. Force Jordan to go to court to enforce them and fight it out until this Congress is dissolved and Republicans are no longer in control, because this Republican House won’t survive the next election.
By the way, while they’re trying to shut down criminal investigations of Donald Trump, the House GOP took the extraordinary measure of providing additional protection to the insurrectionists supporting him and that new guy, the one who got there by—I am not making this up—having his campaign chief impersonate McCarthy’s chief of staff in fundraising calls. They voted in that rules package to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which is as telling as it gets about this GOP.
The OCE has operated as essentially an independent organization, like the Congressional Budget Office. It is authorized by Congress and is staffed by professionals, overseen by a board of eight representatives who are not in Congress. It is apart from the House Ethics Committee, composed of sitting members who are supposed to be policing their own, but reports its findings to the Ethics committee. The OCE has to be reauthorized with each new Congress, and this time around, the Republicans took steps to neuter it. The OCE will not be able to hire any new staff unless a majority of the governing board approves, and the governing board is going to be immediately reduced. The rule imposes retroactive term limits on the governing board, immediately kicking three Democrats off the board. They can be replaced by Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, which is going to take time.
In two days' time, the “fiscally conservative” GOP House will have voted to increase the deficit, and the “drain the swamp” team will have voted to protect the people who tried to overthrow the government and give a free pass to anyone in Congress who wants to do it again.