The new, tiny House Republican majority set out its agenda for the first week of the new session on Dec. 30. It was ridiculous in theory, and it was doubly ridiculous in practice only in part because it took until Week Two to accomplish. The Week One display on the House floor from fractious Republicans in even getting a figurehead speaker installed wasn’t enough to deter them from forging ahead with that divisive, unpopular agenda this week. Then to head off early on Thursday for a 12-day recess observing Martin Luther King Day. Yeah, some of us get one day. They get 12.
Here’s what they accomplished in their first week of “legislating.”
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On Monday, Republicans passed a new rules package to govern the House for the 118th session, keeping in place some of the rules from the previous Congress and jettisoning others, mostly in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”
Getting the most attention because it was one of the key demands McCarthy caved on to the maniacs is allowing just one member to make a “motion to vacate the chair,” or call to oust McCarthy. It’s a privileged resolution, meaning it takes priority on the floor ahead of anything else once it’s called. One thing to note is that the one-member motion rule had been in place forever until it was weaponized by the Freedom Caucus in 2015. In 2019, Democrats modified the rule to say it could only be brought “if offered by direction of a party caucus or conference.” The maniacs insisting that it be reinstated to a single member is their power play over McCarthy. And they won.
The rules also ended proxy voting—the COVID-19 pandemic protections that allowed members to work, and vote, remotely. Republicans used proxy voting regularly but bitched about it from the time it was established in May 2020 even trying to take it to the Supreme Court (they failed). McCarthy and team had to jettison it after the prolonged hissy fit they threw over it, but he’s going to regret that. He only has five votes as a cushion in his majority, so when the inevitable happens and he doesn’t have 218 Republicans present on any given day, Democrats can play.
The other significant changes in the rules are aimed toward forcing massive domestic spending cuts. The GOP scrapped the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) rule that requires the government to offset spending increases with either an equal decrease in spending or an increase in revenue and instituted CUTGO. Any increase in mandatory spending has to be countered by equal or greater spending cuts—no new revenue, no new taxes. They prohibited the use of budget reconciliation bills that would increase mandatory spending—the process the Democratic Congress used to overcome Senate filibusters to pass the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The House GOP mandated that members have to directly vote on proposals to suspend or raise the debt limit. It has to be a stand-alone vote and cannot be automatically passed in a budget resolution or a conference report between the House and Senate. That’s the hand grenade they’re clutching to force Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cuts.
Republicans also reinstated the “Holman Rule,” allowing amendments to appropriations bills to target specific federal programs or workers by zeroing out their budgets and/or salaries. That gets around the work protections in place for civil servants. They also gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), a bipartisan group that investigates ethics issues of sitting members and makes recommendations to the House Ethics Committee for action. It’s a “protect insurrectionist Republicans and George Santos” rule.
They promptly followed all of that up on Monday by voting to increase the deficit over the next 10 years by $114 billion. Actually, what they were voting on was protecting their super-rich pals from getting audited by the IRS. They voted to rescind the $70 billion boost to the IRS that Democrats passed last year, a $70 billion investment the Congressional Budget Office estimates will increase revenue by $186 billion in a decade. The Senate is not going to pass this bill, but the House will keep including this in every spending package for the next two years, so it’s not a fight that’s going away any time soon.
On Tuesday they continued setting up their insurrectionist protection plan by authorizing the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” in which they will weaponize the House against perceived political enemies. It’s more like the “Joe McCarthy Select Committee 2.0.”
Wednesday was the forced birther day during which the GOP passed anti-abortion bills including the really horrible “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.” That would force doctors and nurses to medically intervene when an infant that won’t survive outside the womb is born. It’s unspeakably cruel, inflicting torture on that doomed infant and stealing whatever few precious moments the parents would have with it. Fucking monsters. Oh, and it’s completely unnecessary because any newborn that could survive does get medical care immediately. And there’s no such thing as abortion after birth. That’s murder. There are laws against that already.
They also passed a resolution “condemning the recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches.” That’s after decades of silence in response to anti-abortion terrorism. As Laura Clawson wrote: “between 1993 and 2016 there were 11 murders of doctors, clinic staff, and others involved in providing abortion, and 26 attempted murders. From 2020 to 2022, there were dozens of cases of violence by abortion opponents at clinics that rose to the level of being prosecuted by the Justice Department. Those included bomb threats; physical assaults on clinic escorts; and damage to clinics done with a slingshot, a pellet gun, and a concrete block.”
Republicans wrapped the week on Thursday with a nod to their election promise that they would do something about inflation and gas prices by passing a bill that totally doesn’t do that but has “Strategic Petroleum Reserve” in the title. It prohibits sales from the Strategic Oil Reserve to China. Mostly this one was about the conspiracy theory that Joe Biden was selling the crude to a Chinese company Hunter Biden has a financial stake in. All of that is a lie. And standing law contradicts this: The government is required by law to sell to the highest bidder, even if the company is in China.
The House GOP started the week with a plunging favorability rating, and they sure didn’t do anything in the ensuing days to halt that plummet. What they’ve got planned for their return is no less cruel and no more popular than what we’ve seen so far.
So, you go guys?