Two weeks ago, Kevin McCarthy fought tooth and nail for days to secure the backing of his fellow Republicans that would allow him to be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. After a close call fight on the chamber floor and 15 votes cast over the course of four days, it took a modern record for the number of ballots to be cast in favor of him.
The California congressman made a number of substantial compromises, some of which were made public and others which were kept hidden, in order to persuade the 21 Republicans who were standing in his way of taking the gavel.
They included pledging to fight for significant cuts in government spending, removing him from the speakership more easily, and allowing conservative hardliners to determine many of his party’s policy priorities.
However, the most concrete incentive for the stubborn holdouts may just be starting to become clear. Legislative authority is not exercised on the House of Representatives floor, but rather in legislative committees, where influence is discussed in open hearings and behind closed doors.
- After 15 vote rounds, Kevin McCarthy is chosen as the Speaker of the US House.
- why these Republicans won’t support Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the US House
Some McCarthy opponents said they had received warnings prior to the Speaker vote that their stubbornness would cause them to lose their committee posts and be effectively expelled from the party.
His most strident detractors from the beginning of January, however, are already occupying very powerful positions.
Here are some of the important committee assignments the Republican rebels have received, along with some potential implications for the House of Representatives for the next two years.
The Biden defenders
The key investigative body of the House, the Government Oversight committee, is set to play a major role in the incoming Republican-controlled parliament. Inquiries into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, the president’s and his son Hunter’s personal finances, and the handling of classified documents recently found at the president’s Delaware home and in a former office in Washington, DC, are just a few of the matters that Chair James Comer has already promised to use his authority to look into during Joe Biden’s tenure.
It comes as no surprise that many of Mr. McCarthy’s most vocal opponents sought positions on this committee given the contentious nature of the committee. These opponents have criticized Mr. McCarthy for not being aggressive enough when facing Democrats. Many of them succeeded in getting what they wanted, making the impending oversight hearings extremely painful for Mr. Biden and the Democrats.
McCarthy dissenters On the panel are Byron Donalds, Scott Perry, Paul Gosar, Anna Paulina Luna, and Lauren Boebert. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the conspiracy-obsessed congresswoman from Georgia, is also. Due to prior anti-Semitic remarks and threats of violence against Democratic leaders, Democrats had stripped her of her committee responsibilities when they were in power.
The starting point of impeachment
Given that it is responsible for opening any investigations into possible cases of impeachment against members of the administration, the House Judiciary committee may take on a new prominence in the coming days.
For his management of the spike in unauthorized immigration at the US-Mexico border, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has already received numerous calls from conservative hardliners for his impeachment. Within a month, the first Judiciary Committee hearing on the subject may occur.
The Judiciary Committee, which is led by ardent Biden critic Jim Jordan of Ohio, would be the first stop for impeachment proceedings against Mr. Biden if the House ever decided to do so, which is undoubtedly a possibility given the intensity of Republican animus toward the president.
Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, who led the anti-McCarthy campaign two weeks ago, along with Congressmen Chip Roy of Texas, Victoria Spartz of Indiana, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, and Andy Biggs of Arizona, who was a close ally of Donald Trump during his attempts to challenge his loss in the 2020 presidential election, were all appointed to the committee.
Ruffled feathers and newly acquired power
In addition, a number of other less well-known but no less significant panels included Republican holdouts.
Florida’s Mr. Donalds, who acted as Mr. McCarthy’s opponent for the speakership, was appointed to the Steering Committee, which assigns committee assignments to members of the House. He is on the Financial Services Committee, which controls banks, along with three other Republican rebels (and thus opens the door to very deep-pocketed political donors).
The Appropriations Committee, which oversees all government spending, has appointed Mike Cloud of Texas and Andrew Clyde of Georgia to new positions. The agricultural and drug subcommittee’s chair was promoted to Andy Harris of Maryland. No area is more appropriate for the staunch budget-cutters who made up the majority of Mr. McCarthy’s opponents to exercise their sway.
For Mr. McCarthy, the seat-shuffle has not been without peril. The new Speaker must maintain the satisfaction of his fellow Republicans, which has not always been simple with only a four-seat majority in the House. Vern Buchanan of Florida, who was next in line to lead the influential House Ways and Means tax-writing committee based on seniority, reportedly felt betrayed by being passed over for the position by a close McCarthy supporter.
According to a report in Puck News, Mr. Buchanan made an obscenity-laced diatribe accusing Mr. McCarthy of organizing the snub. He then threatened to leave in protest, handing the Speaker an even smaller House majority.
As the new power dynamics in the House take hold and the Speaker tries to do more than just hold onto power, he or she may start to hear more reports of discontent among the ranks.