Will GOP Rebels Take The Win Or Ask For More?
How much more can they demand?
Another day of negotiation! Everyone ready? Go!
Under the proposed new rules package, committees are back in charge of legislation, with rules designed to ensure that bills address single subjects—rather than catch-all legislation. It similarly gives members new power to challenge amendments that aren’t related to the topic at hand. And it revives “Calendar Wednesday,” whereby any committee chairman can bring a bill straight to the floor.
It includes new provisions for accountability and transparency. Proxy voting is history, as are virtual committee meetings. It requires a 72-hour rule to give members time to read legislation. It ends Democrats’ wild experiment with staffer unionization, which threatened to tie the chamber up with crazy demands.
And it makes it much harder for the House to tax and spend. It imposes a “cut go” rule—requiring any mandatory spending increases be offset with equal or greater mandatory spending cuts. A three-fifths supermajority vote will be required for tax increases. It revives what’s known as the “Holman rule,” allowing appropriations bills effectively to defund the salaries of specific executive-branch officials or specific programs. It also requires each committee to submit an oversight plan that lays out what action it intends to take on unauthorized or duplicative programs.
These changes will produce the first functioning House in years, even as they tie the hands of spenders. Take the win! Instead, the rebels continue to hold out for provisions that have the potential to negate this victory by plunging the House back into chaos. At the top of the list is the continued demand to allow any Republican member to call for a motion to “vacate the chair”—essentially a snap vote to oust the speaker.
Talk about inviting the dysfunction the holdouts claim to want to end. Conservatives used such a motion in 2015 to force John Boehner out, and while his successor, Paul Ryan, avoided the same fate, today’s raucous environment and the GOP’s narrow margins make it a destabilizing weapon. It’s designed to continue to make Mr. McCarthy a hostage to the rebels’ every whim. If you think the House is a mess now, imagine a scenario in which Mr. Gaetz or Lauren Boebert or Andy Biggs can bring the place to a standstill every time their noses are out of joint. Assuming their noses are ever in joint.
Between this and other provisions, the rebel message is that they won’t accept Mr. McCarthy as speaker unless he is stripped of all his power. Brilliant. Returning the business of the House to members is one thing. Neutering a leader of any ability to set a direction or maintain order is suicide. Just what the country needs: 222 headless Republican chickens running around, all claiming to be in charge.
At this point, the rebels can no longer plausibly claim they are fighting for “the people.” This is their own power play. Just take the win.
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