Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
January 12, 2023

The 118th Congress convened last week and Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) won election early Saturday as House speaker in a historic five-day, 15-ballot floor fight, after giving major concessions to right-wing holdouts and weathering a dramatic late-night setback that underscored the limits of his power over the new Republican majority.  McCarthy clawed his way to victory by cutting a deal that won over a sizable contingent of ultraconservative lawmakers on the 12th and 13th votes earlier in the day, and then wearing down the remaining holdouts in a tense session that dragged on past midnight, ultimately winning with a bare majority, after a spectacle of arm-twisting and rancor on the House floor. The final tally was 216 for McCarthy and 212 for Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York), the Democratic leader, with six, all Republicans, voting “present.”

House Republicans then passed their Rules Package on Monday evening in a mostly party-line vote of 220-213, with just one Republican voting “no.” It includes the so-called Holman rule, which allows lawmakers to use spending bills to defund specific programs and fire federal officials or reduce their pay; makes it harder for lawmakers to raise the debt limit; and paves the way for the creation of a new select subcommittee under the Judiciary Committee focused on the “weaponization” of the federal government.  The concessions enumerated in the rules measure included provisions that conservatives have sought for years in an effort to increase transparency around the legislative process, such as requiring that lawmakers receive the text of bills 72 hours ahead of a vote. It ends proxy voting, a procedure instituted by Democrats during the coronavirus pandemic.  It also includes the stipulation that legislation must address a “single subject,” in an attempt to discourage the introduction of sprawling legislation that mashes together numerous pieces of unrelated bills.

The Republican led House has passed the following legislation this week:

H.R. 23 – Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which would zero-out funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that is intended to dramatically increase the IRS’ enforcement abilities.  Republicans claimed throughout the midterm campaign that Democrats were sending “an army of IRS agents” to go after middle- and lower-class taxpayers with the new agency funding in the IRA, which passed along party lines last year.  The House passed the proposal in a party-line vote, 221-210, but it has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate to head to President Joe Biden’s desk.

Res. 11 – Establishing the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. The committee would address issues such as bringing jobs back from China to the United States, securing intellectual property and bringing supply chains back to the country. The House voted 365 to 65 in favor of the resolution.

 Res. 12 – Establishing a Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government as a select investigative subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary. The committee plans a wide-ranging investigation into federal law enforcement and national security agencies, as Republicans promised to use their new power in Congress to scrutinize what they said was a “concerted effort by the government” to silence and punish conservatives at all levels, from protesters at school board meetings to former President Donald J. Trump. On a party-line vote of 221 to 211, with all Democrats opposed, the House approved the formation of the Select Subcommittee which is to be chaired by Representative Jim Jordan, (R-Ohio), the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a staunch ally of Mr. Trump.

H.R. 26 – Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

Con. Res. 3 – Expressing the sense of Congress condemning the recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches.

 H.R. 22 – Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act which would prohibit the Secretary of Energy from drawing down or selling petroleum products from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to any entity that is under the ownership, control, or influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Following votes today, the House will be in recess next week and will return on Tuesday, January 24th.

After being in session on January 3rd for swearing in, the Senate remains in recess and will hold brief pro forma sessions on Friday, January 13th at 1:30 P.M., Tuesday, January 17th at 1:00 P.M. and Friday, January 20th at 1:00 P.M.  The Senate will reconvene at 3:00 P.M. on Monday, January 23rd.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.