This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 9, 2023:
In his acceptance speech just after midnight on Saturday, newly elected Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) claimed that “my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. My responsibility … is to our country.”
But without major concessions to rule changes that he originally opposed, McCarthy would not be holding the gavel.
McCarthy, with a Freedom Index rating of just 60 out of 100, began to sound like a Constitutionalist:
We commit to stop wasteful Washington spending, to lower the price of groceries … and stop the rising national debt.
We pledge to cut the regulatory burden, lower energy costs for families, and create good-paying jobs for workers by unleashing reliable, abundant, American-made energy.
And he got specific:
Our first bill will repeal funding for 87,000 new IRS agents, because the government should be here to help you, not go after you.
One could convincingly argue that, under the Constitution that McCarthy regularly flouts, the federal government is not “here to help you,” but to stay out of the way so people can help themselves.
Nevertheless, McCarthy went on:
We’re going to pass bills to fix the nation’s urgent challenges — from the wide-open southern border to America-Last energy policies to woke indoctrination in our schools.
He promised to create committees “to pursue the truth … no more one-sided inquiries.”
The rules will be voted on Monday night, and here are the key concessions McCarthy made in his ultimately successful quest to lead the House:
A Motion to Remove the Speaker
Originally McCarthy wanted the House Freedom Caucus — the small but determined group of Constitutionalists who held their ground — to agree that he could be removed only if half of the Republican Party members in the House agreed to it. The caucus members said no, demanding that McCarthy agree to the rule that just one member of the House could call for a vote to oust the speaker. McCarthy counter-offered five. The group said no. McCarthy finally agreed to one.
Give More Committee Seats to Freedom Caucus Members
House Freedom Caucus members will receive three of the nine seats on the powerful House Rules Committee, the committee that has a major influence on which bills may be brought to the floor for a vote.
No More Omnibus Spending bills
Instead of wrapping a multitude of bills into one massive pork-laden package like the $1.7 trillion bill just passed by the Democrats in December, individual spending bills will be presented separately for a vote. And House members will have 72 hours before voting, giving them time to read the bills.
Possible Spending Cuts
This rule would cap spending at the levels from two years ago, which would mean potential spending cuts to most government programs.
Restoring the Holman Rule
This will allow amendments to reduce lawmakers’ salaries, to fire federal employees, and to cut federal government programs.
Vote on the Texas Border Plan
The plan has four aims: to complete building the wall; to strengthen border enforcement; to enforce laws against illegals already inside the country; and to target the drug cartels and other criminal organizations enabling the invasion of illegals into the country.
Investigate the Weaponizing of Federal Agencies
McCarthy agreed to allow a Judiciary subcommittee to investigate, among other things, the Department of Justice’s raid on Trump’s Florida residence and its probe into his handling of “classified” documents.
Any [rule] that limits the Speaker’s power is a step in the right direction. The Freedom Caucus is more relevant than ever, and McCarthy won’t be able to get anything done without our endorsement and support.
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, a member of the House Freedom Caucus with a Freedom Index rating of 93, celebrated:
House conservatives delivered a massive victory for the American people by fundamentally changing the way Congress will operate.
We changed the way bills will be passed. We changed the way the government will be funded. We changed the way committees will be formed. We secured votes on term limits, the fair tax, the Texas border plan, and so much more.
Perhaps the most significant of the rules, if passed by the House Monday night, is the one that threatens to oust Speaker McCarthy if he fails to live up to his end of the bargain.