The House is set to begin its legislative business on Monday after last week’s four-day Speaker election spectacle, which ended with Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) securing the gavel following 15 rounds of voting.
The House is scheduled to meet on Monday and will move to its first order of business: voting on a rules package for the 118th Congress, which has already come under scrutiny from some Republicans. The terms were central to GOP negotiations last week, with McCarthy offering a number of concessions to lock up the Speakership.
After the rules are adopted, the House is scheduled to take up the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which calls for rescinding the money for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that was included in the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act. Other bills are also slated to come to the floor this week.
Also on Monday, the Republican Steering Committee is scheduled to meet to finalize committee chairs and assignments for the 118th Congress, a source told The Hill.
The Senate is not in session this week.
House to take up rules package
The House on Monday will take up a rules package for the 118th Congress, marking the first piece of legislative business in the new session. The chamber was unable to bring any bills to the floor until a Speaker was elected.
The package was at the center of closed-door negotiations last week between McCarthy allies and his holdouts, with those close to the GOP leader trying to strike a deal to get the California Republican the gavel.
McCarthy was ultimately elected Speaker in the early hours of Saturday on the 15th ballot. Six of the GOP holdouts voted present, which lowered the threshold McCarthy needed to win and ultimately put him on a path to the leadership post.
But to win the Speakership, McCarthy gave up a number of rules concessions that moved the holdouts to supporters. Among them was a change to the motion to vacate the chair, which is used to force a vote on ousting the Speaker.
The rules package agreed to by Republicans in November required that at least half of the GOP conference support the motion to trigger a vote. But in a compromise for some conservative Republicans, the package released last weekend brought the threshold down to five Republicans.
That change, however, was not enough for a number of Republicans, who pushed for the threshold to be lowered down to one. The motion to vacate had historically required just one member, but Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) raised it to a majority of either party when she became Speaker in 2019.
McCarthy ultimately decided last week to restore the single-member motion to vacate to shore up support for the Speakership. That change is the only difference between the rules package coming to the floor on Monday and the terms released by the Republican conference last weekend. The other concessions agreed to are not included in the legislation.
The package also directs for the establishment of a subcommittee on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government,” which will be under the purview of the House Judiciary Committee, giving into an ask from some Republicans who requested a “Church-style” committee to probe government abuses — a reflection of the 1975 Senate select committee named after former Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), which looked into intelligence agencies.
The rules package will also reinstate the Holman Rule, which would allow amendments to decrease the salaries of government workers or funding for particular programs to $1, practically defunding them. It also ends proxy voting which was instituted during the pandemic, among other terms.
The rules package is already coming under scrutiny by some Republicans, setting the scene for what could be a messy first legislative vote for the House in the 118th Congress.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter Friday night that he will not support the rules package, doubling down on that stance during an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning. He said one of his main concerns is that the terms could cut defense spending.
“This has a proposed billions-of-dollar cut to defense, which I think is a horrible idea, when you have aggressive Russia in Ukraine, you’ve got a growing threat of China in the Pacific,” Gonzales said. “I’m going to visit Taiwan here in a couple of weeks. How am I going to look at our allies in the eye and say, I need you to increase your defense budget, but yet America is going to decrease ours?”
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) also signaled that she could oppose the package Monday, telling “Face the Nation” that she is “considering” opposition the terms over concerns regarding the closed-door negotiations that took place amid the Speaker vote last week.
“I like the rules package. It is the most, open, fair and fiscally conservative package we have had in 30 years. I support it. But what I don’t support is a small number of people trying to get a deal done or deals done for themselves… in private, in secret to get a vote or a vote present. I don’t support that,” she sai.
“So I am on the fence right now about the rules package vote tomorrow for that reason,” she added.
Opposition from Gonzales and Mace could put the rules package in jeopardy because of Republicans’ slim majority in the House. If all members are present and Democrats oppose the terms in unison, Republicans can other afford to lose four of “yes” votes.
Republicans tee-up bills for first legislative week
Once a rules package is passed, Republicans are planning to bring a number of measures to the floor involving China, law enforcement and abortion.
The first bill, however, is titled the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which would revoke the funds appropriated for the IRS in the sweeping tax, health care and climate package Democrats passed over the summer.
McCarthy announced in September that the measure would be the first brought to the floor in a GOP House majority. It comes after Republicans on a number of occasions have falsely said that the increase in IRS funding would lead to 87,000 new IRS agents. That rough calculation, however, includes support staff, IRS employees who are not agents and replacement for individuals who depart after a decade.
The House this week is also set to vote on bills that would create select committees on the “Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party,” which will aim to end critical economic dependencies on China, and “the weaponization of the federal government against everyday Americans,” which will investigate how government agencies obtain various pieces of information.
McCarthy tapped Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) to chair the China subcommittee in December.
Also up this week is a resolution, spearheaded by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Texas), that expresses support for law enforcement agencies and condemns efforts to dismantle them — a direct shot at Democrats who have called for defunding the police.
Republicans are also planning to focus their efforts on abortion-related legislation this week, bringing up the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act,” which outlines medical protections for babies that survive an abortion attempt, and a resolution condemning attacks on pro-life facilities, groups and churches.
Additionally, the chamber is set to take up the Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act, which would stop sales and exports of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the Chinese Communist Party, and the Prosecutors Need to Prosecute Act, which calls for transparency among prosecutors.
Steering committee to finalize assignments, chairs
The Republican Steering Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday and finalize assignments and chairs, a source told The Hill.
The committee met in December and ratified chairs for the 118th Congress for committees that only had one person running for the top job. Decisions for the contested chairs, however, were punted amid GOP opposition to McCarthy’s Speaker bid. The group will now meet on Monday to finish its business.
The panel still has to decide who receives gavels for the House Ways and Means, Homeland Security, Budget, and the Education and Labor committees.
Emily Brooks contributed.