House Contest Ends, McCarthy’s Concessions and What They Mean

kevin mccarthy speaker
U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy listening to U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik just after McCarthy became Speaker of the House on January 7, 2023. (CSPAN)

January 12, 2023

After 15 House floor votes, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy was finally elected speaker. This marked the longest speaker contest in 164 years.

McCarthy saw significant pushback over the last week after a group of House Republicans in the Freedom Caucus came out against him. In a show of confidence, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who led the effort to oppose McCarthy, accused the then-minority leader of “squatting” in the speaker’s office in a letter addressed to the Architect of the Capitol.

McCarthy was re-endorsed by former President Donald Trump after his third lost vote in a post on Trump-owned social media platform Truth Social, writing, “…VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY…” The endorsement of the former president wasn’t enough to sway the remaining GOP dissent. It’s possible that his influence over the Republican party is starting to wain.

Finally, after he “ran out of things [he] could even imagine to ask for,” Gaetz and other detractors, such as Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Elijah Crane (R-AZ), Bob Good (R-VA), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT) voted “present” in the final round, lowering the threshold for the number of votes needed to secure a majority of the vote, according to CNN.

(READ MORE: ‘How Ironic’: Classified Documents Discovered in Biden’s Private Office)

Throughout the struggle, McCarthy slowly gave in to the 20 Republicans that opposed him, resulting in notable concessions.

These requests were formally voted on in H.Res.5 on January 9th and passed. This bill is informally known as “the rules package.” While there are a lot of rules that were approved, here are some of the highlights on the currently released document:

  • There must be at least a 72-hour window between the point where representatives have first seen a bill to when they vote on it.
    • The purpose of this is to discourage representatives from voting on something they haven’t had time to read, and therefore don’t fully understand. This can be bypassed with a 2/3 majority.
  • Bills must come forth with a single stated purpose.
    • This is to stop Congress’ infamous habit of introducing bills whose content has little to do with the title.
  • Representatives must be present to vote
    • This was a COVID-era policy.
  • Income tax will be more difficult to increase
    • There is now a requirement of a three-fifths agreement in the House to attempt to raise taxes. This was previously set at a bit more than one-half agreement.
  • Any member of the House can start a vote to remove the Speaker.
  • There will be a “Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government”
    • This will investigate the government’s use of private companies to infringe on the rights of US citizens.

There are also many general financial agreements, such as the dissolution of future Omnibus packages, forcing them into smaller bills, as well as an agreement to lower government spending.

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