Update: Republican Speaker Must Give a Lot to Secure His Spot

Update 1/7: The House speaker stalemate came to a conclusion early Saturday January 7 with the 15th round of voting. Rep. Kevin McCarthy secured the position. Some of his concessions to obtain the votes for this position are as follows:

Just one representative will be required to move to unseat the Speaker. Conservatives in conference with McCarthy rejected his proposal of a 5 member motion, holding that the threshold had historically been one member until Democrats voted to change it in 2019. Additionally, McCarthy complied to a vote on a bill that would limit representatives to three terms and senators to two terms (six and twelve years respectively).

The Republican party has replaced the PAYGO budget with “CUTGO”, and will be heavily enforcing it for 2023. This Act ensures that the House offsets spending with an equal amount of savings from other categories. The key difference is that the CUTGO plan forces lawmakers to pay for excess spending exclusively with budget cuts, meaning no new taxes are allowed. The new House rules also include that any member can raise a point of order (a query in debate as to whether the correct procedure is being followed) to block a bill, amendment, or conference report that may increase appropriations or mandatory spending programs. Only a majority vote could overturn the point of order.

The establishment of a “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” which will investigate what conservatives see as the politicization of the Federal Bureau of Information and Department of Justice. The subcommittee must investigate the legality, constitutionality, and ethics of matters relating to the collection, analysis, and use of information (on U.S. citizens) by executive branch agencies. The subcommittee must make a final report of its findings by January 2, 2025.

The Holman rule will be restored, which can be used to reduce the salary of government officials, fire specific federal employees, or cut programs. Broadly, Republicans look to this rule to increase accountability and streamline the appropriations process (Congress passes appropriations bills to provide money to carry out government programs for that year), encouraging strategic reassignment of workers according to policy needs and cuts to programs perceived as wasteful.

The former House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, was immediately considered a top candidate to become speaker in the next Congress. On November 15, McCarthy won a party vote to become the Republican nominee for speaker. McCarthy was elected House Minority Leader in 2019 and had previously served as House Majority Leader under John Boehner and Paul Ryan (2014 to 2019). As minority leader, McCarthy was a consistent defender of former president Donald Trump. After Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, McCarthy supported Trump’s unfounded denial of his loss and participated in efforts to overturn the results. Later, McCarthy condemned the January 6 Insurrection at the Capitol and began to remark that the 2020 election was in fact legitimate.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Leadership of the House of Representatives remains in limbo as McCarthy faces internal opposition to his candidacy for speaker. The January 3 vote was the first time in a century that the election for Speaker of the House took multiple ballots to complete. An end to the voting must come swiftly, as the House cannot conduct any business, including swearing in new members, until a speaker is chosen. The members of the 118th Congress cannot be sworn in until the new speaker is chosen. The House adjourned on Thursday January 5, after 12 votes which saw McCarthy unsuccessful in securing more votes than Jefferies. Voting will resume today, Friday January 6, at 12:00 p.m. McCarthy has been reported to be making baseless deals with the 20 Republicans opposing him. In order to obtain the 218 votes to win, he must convert 16 or more to his side, a tough feat as there are 5 known members of this group who have firmly held that they will not vote for McCarthy. Updates to follow.

Fun Fact: The longest vote for speaker took place in 1855, lasting 133 rounds over two months, from December 1855 to February 1856.

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