McCarthy’s Next Hurdles
After a long and contentious week of voting in the House, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) finally obtained enough votes to become speaker. Speaker McCarthy now faces his next set of hurdles.
This evening the House will vote on the revised rules for the 118th Congress. To gain the votes to become speaker, Speaker McCarthy made several concessions to his objectors. Some of these are included in the revised rules package, such as reducing the number of members needed for a motion to vacate the chair to one. However, many of the concessions will not be formally voted on and may never be publicly disclosed. It is reported that such concessions include providing three seats on the House Rules Committee to members of the House Freedom Caucus. This would give members of the Freedom Caucus significant sway over what legislation and amendments are approved for consideration on the House floor for voting. Strong restraints on government spending, including defense spending, also are reported to have been included in the rules package. Over the weekend, one Republican went on record opposing the rules package, and another publicly noted uncertainty about her vote. We will see if more moderate Republicans come out against the package, but the package is expected to be approved.
Of particular importance for healthcare policy in the new Congress, we should also learn today who will chair the House Ways and Means Committee. Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO), Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) are all vying to become chair. Once that and several other chair appointments are resolved, rank and file members on both sides of the aisle will get their committee assignments.
We are off to a chaotic and clearly interesting start to the 118th Congress. We will be learning every day about how to effectively legislate in this new environment.