New US House speaker faces 1st major test with regulation vote
The new speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, faces the first test of his ability to lead the troubled House this Monday (9), when Republicans try to pass the set of rules that will determine how it will function. .
An afternoon vote on the plan, which caused a stir for its concessions to the Republican right, including a plan to cut defense spending, comes on the heels of one of the most turbulent weeks in the lower house.
Lawmakers nearly came to blows in the new Republican-controlled House legislature after McCarthy was forced to go through 15 rounds of voting over four days to overcome a far-right blockade of his candidacy.
Democrats complain that the deals reached to unlock the vote severely reduced the authority of the ‘speaker’ – the speaker of the House -, Washington’s top legislator, and ceded an unhealthy amount of power to more extreme Republican lawmakers.
The 55-page rulebook sets out Republican priorities for the remainder of Democratic President Joe Biden’s term – who took over in January 2021 – and the procedures they will adopt to run the House.
An attached three-page file of side deals that McCarthy reportedly negotiated in secret with the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus has unnerved Democrats and some moderate Republicans.
According to reports, McCarthy’s most controversial concessions include taking on a 10-year budget that freezes spending at 2022 levels, which would mean a cut in funding for federal agencies, and a 10% decrease in defense spending.
“This is a proposed cut of billions [of dollars] to Defense, which I think is a horrible idea,” Republican Tony Gonzales, who represents the state of Texas, told CBS on Sunday.
“When you have Russia and Ukraine in conflict, a growing threat from China in the Pacific […] How am I going to look our allies in the eye and say, I need you to increase your defense budget, while at the same time the United States going to reduce ours?”, he explained.
‘Everything’ on the table
Jim Jordan, a McCarthy ally despite being part of the Freedom Caucus leadership, told Fox News that “everything has to be on the table,” including funding for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion.
“Frankly, we’d better also look at the money we send to Ukraine and say, ‘How can we best spend the money to protect the United States?’” Jordan alleged.
The cuts would please many fiscal conservatives, except they are largely symbolic, as they would die on their way to the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The Senate can write its own version of most of the rules package if it has objections, prompting compromise talks between the two houses of Congress.
According to reports, McCarthy also agreed to give the Freedom Caucus major influence over the day-to-day conduct of legislation, effectively ceding significant leadership powers to a far-right group.
And he has plans to form a new select subcommittee to investigate the “weaponization of government” that will focus on the Justice Department’s ongoing investigations into former President Donald Trump (2017-2021), according to The New York newspaper. Times.
According to reports, McCarthy also agreed to a reform that allows only one member to request a vote to impeach him, in effect a kind of “Freedom Caucus insurance policy” that allows the right to keep the speaker’s feet on the ground. fire on your other promises.
The former trader can only afford to lose four Republican lawmakers at most, assuming all Democrats vote against the proposed package.
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