McCarthy faces his next challenge: making rules for the House of Representatives

Speaker Kevin McCarthy passed his first test late Monday when Republicans approved their rule package for managing the operations of the House of Representatives

WASHINGTON – Choice of speaker was maybe the easy part. Now the House Republicans will try to govern.

speaker Kevin McCarthy passed its first test late Monday when Republicans approved theirs rules pack for directing house operations, usually a routine first-day step that extended into the second week of the new majority. It passed 220-213, a party line vote in which one Republican opposed.

Next on Monday, House Republicans will attempt to pass their first bill — that is, legislation to cut funding intended to strengthen the Internal Revenue Service. Republicans’ IRS bill stalled ahead of votes because the Budget Office announced it would add $114 billion to the federal deficit instead of saving money.

It’s the dawn of a new era of potentially troubled governments, with House Republicans reeling from one stalemate to the next, it shows the challenges McCarthy faces in leading a rebel majority and the limits of President Joe Biden’s remaining agenda on Capitol Hill.

With sky-high ambitions for a far-right conservative agenda but only a slim majority allowing few holdouts to stop the trial, Republicans plunge headlong into an uncertain, volatile start to the new session. You want Investigations against BidenCut federal spending and increase competition with China.

But first, McCarthy, backed by former President Donald Trump, must show that the Republican majority can keep up with the fundamentals of governance.

“You know, it’s a little harder when you get a majority and maybe the margins aren’t high,” McCarthy conceded after winning the speaker’s vote. “The break now has really built trust in each other and learned how to work together.”

When McCarthy opened the House of Representatives as the new speaker on Monday, Republicans started a debate about it rules package, a hard-fought 55-page document McCarthy negotiated with conservative holdouts to win their votes and make him speaker of the House of Representatives.

At the heart of the package is the provision the Conservative Freedom Caucus wanted, which reinstates a long-standing rule allowing any lawmaker to table a motion to “vacate the chair” — a vote to oust the speaker. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi scrapped the rule when Democrats took over in 2019 because conservatives had viewed it as a threat to previous Republican speakers.

Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., said the rules are about “going back to basics.”

But that’s not the only change. There are other provisions that Conservatives have ripped out of McCarthy that weaken the powers of the Speaker’s Office and give more control of the legislature to ordinary legislators, particularly the far-right legislators who have won concessions.

Republicans are admitting more Freedom Caucus lawmakers to the Rules Committee, which shapes legislative debates. These members promise more open and free-flowing debates and insist on 72 hours to read the legislation before voting.

But it’s an open debate whether the changes will make the House more transparent about its operations or stall it, as happened last week when McCarthy fought through four days and 14 failed ballots before finally winning the Speaker’s gavel.

Many Republicans defended the stalemate over the speaker’s gavel, which was finally resolved by the narrowest of votes in the hours after midnight Saturday morning — one of the longest speaker-race showdowns in US history.

“A small temporary conflict is needed in this city to keep this city from rolling over the American people,” R-Texas Rep. Chip Roy said on CNN over the weekend.

On Monday, Roy praised the new rules and said he could petition “now” to demand a vote on Speaker – as was the case in House history.

But en route to Monday night’s vote on the rules package, at least two other Republicans objected to the backroom deals McCarthy had secured, leaving it unclear whether there would be enough GOP support for passage as all Democrats are expected to oppose it. In the end, only Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas voted against.

Democrats condemned the new rules as giving in to the demands of the far right, consistent with Trump’s “Make American Great Again” agenda.

“These rules are not a serious attempt at government,” said Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee. Rather, it is a “ransom demand from the far right”.

Rep. Ritchie Torres, DN.Y., focused his criticism on the GOP’s so-called Holman Rule, which would allow Congress to unpay individual federal employees: “This is no way of governing.”

McCarthy commands a slim 222-seat Republican majority, meaning he can only lose four GOP detractors on any given vote, or the legislation will fail if all Democrats oppose it.

The new rules make McCarthy’s job even harder. For example, Republicans are getting rid of proxy voting, which Democrats introduced under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the COVID-19 pandemic. That means McCarthy must demand increased attendance and participation at every vote, with almost no absences allowed due to family emergencies or other circumstances.

“Members of Congress need to show up and get back to work,” said Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La.

With the Senate still narrowly held by Democrats, the divided Congress could still be a time of bipartisan agreements. On Monday, a group of Republican and Democratic senators headed to the U.S. southern border with Mexico to develop an overhaul of immigration policies to stem the flow of migrants.

But more often, a divided Congress leads to deadlock.

Republicans have been here before, a little over a decade ago, when the Tea Party class captured the majority in 2011, threw Pelosi out of the Speaker’s office and ushered in an era of hardball politics that crippled the government and defaulted of the federal government threatened .

McCarthy was a key player in these struggles, having recruited the Tea Party class while he was GOP campaign chairman. He tried and failed to take over from Republican John Boehner in 2015 when the beleaguered Speaker of the House abruptly retired rather than face a possible Conservative vote on his ouster. McCarthy faces his next challenge: making rules for the House of Representatives

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