U.S. House rules approved for the 118th Congress with concessions that range from reducing government spending to freedom caucus members getting more seats.
After a historically tumultuous week electing Republican Kevin McCarthy as speaker, the House reconvened Monday evening and adopted the new rules for the 118th Congress.
- What rules changes were made?: The rules give more power to individual members, allow for aggressive investigation of the Biden administration on issues such as COVID-19 and the southern border; and make it more difficult to increase federal spending.
- Rules passed in a 220-213 vote: Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas was the only Republican to vote with Democrats.
- Why the rules vote was important: Adoption of the rules are often a below-the-radar exercise designed to make sure the House operates smoothly over the next two years. But the rules changes this year came as Republicans seek to aggressively investigate the Biden administration and after a faction of hard-line GOP lawmakers were able to wrest key concessions that give them more power.
Here are the latest developments:
House rules package passes
Newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy survived the first test of his leadership, passing a rules package Monday that Republicans say will help the U.S. “get its fiscal house in order.”
Just as Americans must live within their means, “so too should the federal government,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said before the vote. “Republicans cannot and will not rest our heads in the sand without out-of-control federal spending.”
But the House rules do more than address appropriations. They also include multiple concessions that yield to a group of about 20 hard-line conservatives who blocked his speakership for four days.
He ultimately won after 15 rounds of voting by giving the far-right caucus the power to have a single member initiate a vote to oust him. He also conceded more committee seats to House Freedom Caucus members, a spending cap, a promise not to campaign against conservative members in safe districts, among others.
Progressive opponents, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said the rules package caters to “MAGA extremists” and threatens women’s economic freedom and bodily autonomy.
Fiery debates before rules vote
The 118th Congress started its business Monday night with a fiery debate about a rules package Democrats accused Republicans of negotiating in secret and “caving to MAGA extremists.”
Several Republicans said the rules package negotiated between new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, his top allies and about 20 conservative hard-liners will “make sure the federal government is working for its citizens and not itself.”
“The fringe held the Republican leadership hostage and got them to give away everything – including their dignity,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
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