Republican leader Kevin McCarthy handed a new set of rules governing the operation of the chamber to his party’s Far-Right lawmakers.
The way Kevin McCarthy was elected and the new House rules now reflect the rifts and dysfunction in the Republican Party and in American politics as a whole, and they will only widen them.
Kevin McCarthy, the head of the Republican Party, presented a new set of rules to the party’s Far-Right legislators not long after becoming the Speaker of the US House of Representatives in an unprecedented 15th try.
The rules will compel public expenditure cuts, degrade the Speaker’s position and authority, allow any member to introduce a motion to have him ousted, destroy omnibus spending bills, and make each appropriation item subject to debate and amendment.
The rules have also made it possible for the House Judiciary Committee to create a subcommittee to investigate the “weaponization of the federal government,” which Republicans plan to use as a weapon against Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations into the mob uprising that occurred at the US Capitol on January 6, 2020, in which prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, are alleged to have participated.
Along with the formal adjustments, McCarthy’s agreement with his party’s extreme wing has allowed members of the Far-Right to sit in on important legislative committees, like the essential House Rules Committee. Later this year, Republicans are also planning to resist raising or extending the US government’s debt ceiling, which may spark a worldwide economic catastrophe that is unprecedented.
The way in which McCarthy was elected and the new House rules now reflect the rifts and dysfunction in the Republican Party and in American politics as a whole, and they will only widen them.
Election politics surrounding McCarthy
Republicans narrowly won a majority in the House in the November midterm elections, taking 222 of the 435 seats. McCarthy, a Republican from California who served as minority leader in the previous House, was thought to be the front-runner to become Speaker.
But he faced internal opposition since the Republican Party today is split between the Right and the Far-Right. The Freedom Caucus, a group with roots in the Tea Party movement and strong ties to Donald Trump, is in charge of representing the latter in the House. Their political views are centered on a visceral antipathy to immigration, government expenditure, social programmes, abortion, and racial and sexual education curricula. Members of this group contested the validity of the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Their politics revolve around portraying Washington, DC, and how business is done in the capitol as the main issue, and their stated goal is to overthrow it. This is because they are running from safe Republican districts. They want to displace party leaders’ authority in the House by promoting decentralised decision-making. Additionally, they wanted to demonstrate their opposition to Democrats and President Joe Biden in order to outperform the rest of the party.
Jim Jordan, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, and Majorie Taylor Greene, a member of the radical right from Georgia, were among the members of this Caucus who supported McCarthy. However, others persisted all the way to the end, like Florida resident Matt Gaetz. Given the Caucus’ tight ties to Trump, there is much debate in Washington, DC, about whether the former president was engaging in a “double game” or whether his power among his own followers has decreased.
This is so since, in writing, Trump backed McCarthy’s promotion and even urged his supporters to vote him for Speaker. McCarthy, though, briefly opposed Trump after January 6. Trump may have encouraged the Far-Right obstructionists to hold out until the very end in order to make McCarthy entirely dependent on him and demonstrate to the party that he still had the final say. This is true even though some of those who opposed McCarthy until the very end has claimed Trump had no part in the process.
The House Speaker acknowledged Trump’s influence after his victory and said: “I do want to especially thank President Trump. Nobody should, in my opinion, question his influence. The Fake News Media was, believe it or not, quite generous in their reporting that I significantly aided Kevin McCarthy in obtaining the job of Speaker of the House, stated Trump in his signature flair. I’m grateful since I have done our nation a great favour.
But regardless of whether the election demonstrated Trump’s power or its limitations, the entire process, which was shown live on C-Span, demonstrated the Republicans’ complete disarray. The party’s moderate wing, which is a relative word because the party has recently shifted to various shades of the Right, was dissatisfied with Trump’s performance in the midterm elections, in which he and his preferred candidates alienated independent voters, particularly in the suburbs. Their worries that the Far-Right could harm their chances in the upcoming election, particularly in districts where the margins with Democrats are slim, were only made worse by the election of the Speaker.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the huge midterm winner and rising star of the Republican Party, was the only one who saw the conflict from a distance. According to a Hill observer of the political scene, DeSantis is doing wisely. He is allowing the internal collapse of the Republicans. He is allowing his anger toward Trump to escalate. And he is waiting for the right-wing media environment, the party, and the funders to recognize him as the only candidate who has a chance of unseating Joe Biden in 2024.
The development of an unruly House
Although the House’s political dynamics will have an impact on the Republican Party’s future, the more pressing problem for the American polity right now is how they have contributed to a completely dysfunctional government and undermined American democracy.
McCarthy has diminished the Speaker’s power in order to become Speaker, making him more susceptible to pressure since just one member needs to file a motion to remove him from office. Give-and-take is essential for any legislative activity to be carried out, especially since the Senate is under Democratic control. However, McCarthy has tied himself into positions that will make any deals on legislation with Democrats and the White House difficult, if not impossible.
McCarthy has agreed to the creation of a committee that challenges the autonomy of DOJ processes in order to fight investigations on January 6; this will weaken confidence in the rule of law and make any inquiry, performed by the House or by DOJ, appear to be a politicised process. Additionally, McCarthy has effectively turned all appropriations measures into subject to individual veto in order to satisfy the extreme faction’s demand for increased control over legislation.
The debt ceiling issue will be where Republican obstructionism manifests itself most visibly. The amount of money the US can borrow to satisfy its debt obligations, such as Social Security and Medicare payouts, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other liabilities, is subject to statutory limits. In order for the US to avoid defaulting, the Congress suspends or increases this cap. However, the Republican Right has made it clear that this time, the House won’t do it unless it’s coupled with significant spending cuts.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed Congress on Friday that the United States will exceed its debt ceiling on January 19 and will need to take “exceptional measures” to prevent defaulting; however, these measures are anticipated to be used up by June. Failure to fulfil the government’s responsibilities would hurt the US economy, all Americans’ lives, and the stability of the global financial system, according to Yellen.
In the upcoming months, McCarthy’s ability to placate the Far-Right faction of his party while preventing a financial and economic crisis in the US will be his biggest test, and it may even determine how long he remains in power.
Also read: Manpreet Monica Singh: First Female Sikh Judge of US
Pingback: Joe Biden and Sensitive Document Case - INPAC TIMES