We just wrapped up the first quarter of 2023, so it’s a good time to check in with the new GOP House majority and Barely Speaker Kevin McCarthy to see how they’ve been doing on their plans to
destroy democracy revolutionize government. Before Congress even convened in January, incoming Majority Leader Steve Scalise outlined what they had on the agenda for the very first weeks of the session.
That included “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.” Boy, was that optimistic.
We know how the first week went—nearly five agonizing days and 15 votes in which McCarthy handed real control of the gavel over to the maniacs. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the month of January. It took two weeks to pass a rules package under which the House could even operate, and which cemented control of the maniacs.
By the end of the month, they had passed some of their big priorities: forced birther bills, and declaring that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, along with denouncing socialism. Because those are the things that will really “address challenges facing hard-working families.”
RELATED: GOP House sets agenda for first few weeks, and yes, it's ridiculous
What they didn’t do: pass a “border security,” anti-immigration bill. Because some actual House Republicans said the bill is so extreme it’s “anti-American.” The last we heard from them on that was in February, when they were looking for a “Plan B” on immigration. They seem to mostly have settled on field trips to the border for those photo ops.
They have also failed to bring what they call “criminal justice reform” bills to the floor. The “Prosecutors Need to Prosecute Act” hasn’t even had a Judiciary Committee hearing yet, and the non-binding “Expressing support for the Nation's law enforcement agencies and condemning any efforts to defund or dismantle law enforcement agencies” resolution hasn’t either. Maybe because ]] three versions of it are floating around and they’re fighting among themselves over who gets to claim credit.
Of the 11 bills that Scalise promised on December 30 that were going to go to be voted on in the first two weeks of the session, six made it to the floor. They have had a few “wins” that were among those top priorities.
Before heading off for the two-week break they are now enjoying, they did manage to pass the “Lower Energy Costs Act,” which should have been titled the “Hurray for Climate Change Act,” because it’s pretty much a giveaway to Big Oil. It also would repeal key climate provisions from the big climate bill Biden and Democrats passed last year, including a greenhouse gas reduction fund aimed at reducing pollution and creating green energy jobs, as well as eliminate a methane reduction program that charges polluters for releasing the greenhouse gas.
What it doesn’t actually do is reduce energy costs for American consumers, because the last thing the fossil fuel companies are interested in doing is cutting their obscene profits to help out their captive customers.
So the big “policy” scores for the House GOP in this quarter are bills making it easier for rich people to cheat on their taxes (and costing the nation $70 billion over the next decade) and further enriching the richest mega-corporations. As usual.
State supreme court races are a favorite topic of ours, and there are literally dozens more on the ballot in 2024, so we're previewing the top battles with Carah Ong Whaley of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics on this week's episode of The Downballot podcast. Carah tells us how and why so much money has come to be spent on supreme court elections in recent decades before diving into next year's key contests, including several states where control is on the line, like Ohio, Michigan, and Montana. With the stakes high for redistricting reform, abortion rights, and democracy, progressives everywhere will want to stay up-to-date on all of these races.