With 15 rounds of contentious voting for speaker behind them, House Republicans rallied behind Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) during his first week with the gavel.
GOP lawmakers passed a rules package that will govern how the lower chamber operates for the next two years, after which the House immediately began considering legislation while the Democrat-led Senate is in a pattern of holding brief pro forma sessions until January 23.
Among the first orders of business for the House was advancing legislation geared toward ensuring steps are taken by health providers to protect infants born alive after an attempted abortion. Republicans then attracted bipartisan support from more than 100 Democrats in passing a bill to ban the United States from selling and exporting crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China. The House also voted to slash funding to the Internal Revenue Service.
Although these bills are not expected to get far in the Senate, Republicans insisted they are getting off to a strong start in the fledgling session of Congress.
“While President Biden wants to control the kind of stove Americans can cook on, House Republicans are certainly cooking with gas,” McCarthy tweeted Friday, alluding to the controversy over the Biden administration reportedly considering a ban on gas stoves. “This week wasn’t just the start of a new Congress — it is the start of a new direction in Washington.”
Beyond legislation, the House paved the way for high-profile investigations this term. That included approving the creation of a panel that will investigate the “weaponization” of the federal government. In addition, nearly 150 Democrats joined Republicans to establish the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. House Republicans also began investigations into the burgeoning scandal over President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents.
Border security remains a top priority for Republicans. A group of GOP lawmakers called for a briefing by the intelligence community on national security threats posed by the “open” U.S.-Mexico border, according to Fox News. Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) introduced articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accusing him of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Taking aim at members across the aisle, McCarthy made good on a promise to bump three high-profile Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff (CA), Eric Swalwell (CA), and Ilhan Omar (MN) — from perches on key committees. On Friday, Biden accepted McCarthy’s invitation to deliver his State of the Union address on February 7.
While McCarthy may be on a roll, he emerged from the days-long vote for speaker with checks on his power. Most notably, in a concession made to GOP holdouts, he agreed to a rules change to allow a sole member of the House to file a “motion to vacate,” which would pave the way to a simple majority vote ousting the speaker. Republicans have a slim majority in the House, and GOP leadership can only afford to lose a few votes if Democrats band together.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who took over as top Democrat in the lower chamber from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with the new session of Congress, touted in a tweet Friday: “Inflation is down for the sixth consecutive month. More than 10 million good-paying jobs have been created under President Biden. And Dems are just getting started for the people.”