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GOP controlled 118th Congress …. Is it working? [updated]




This is the first in a series of blogs dedicated to help American voters to appreciate what the Republican Party has been doing to stay elected and its impact on our country.


It’s been over a year since the 118th Congress was elected, with the GOP winning a slim five seat majority. With the departure of George Santos and the early retirement of Kevin McCarthy the margin has been reduced to three.


It’s first official responsibility was to elect a Speaker. How did they do?


Speaker’s contest took 16 rounds of votes the longest since before the Civil War.

It took over 4 days to elect McCarthy. During this period no lawmakers could be sworn into office, which meant they couldn't help their constituents, get classified briefings, hold hearings, OR pass laws. Prior to McCarthy’s accent, Rep Nathaniel Prentice Banks during the Civil War, took 133 rounds covering two months.


In order to become Speaker, McCarthy had to agree to several key House rules changes, driven by the Freedom Caucus, an ultra-conservative 45 member faction of the house republicans. Speaker McCarthy:


  • Agreed to appoint Freedom Caucus members to key committees including the House Rules Committees which determines how house conducts business

  • Lowered the 5-vote threshold to vacate the Speaker to 1 vote

  • Created new House rules making it easier to block spending and harder to pass tax increases

  • Any increase in the debt limit now requires a House vote, previously the debt limit automatically increased automatically when Congress approved new budget measures


Making this deal, gave McCarthy the gavel, a personal achievement he deeply coveted more than his oath to serve all Americans. His concessions essentially turned over the control of the House to ONLY 45 right wing republicans, negating millions of votes casted to elect the other 488 House representatives.


What is the Speaker’s Role


Besides being second in line to the Presidency, according to the official House Practice: A Guide to the Rules:

      

  The Speaker is the presiding officer of the House and is charged

  with numerous duties and responsibilities by law and by the House

  rules. As the presiding officer of the House, the Speaker maintains

  order, manages its proceedings, and governs the administration of its

  business. The major functions of the Speaker with respect to the

  consideration of measures on the floor include recognizing Members who seek

  to address the House, construing and applying the House rules, and putting the question on matters arising on the floor to a vote


In other words, the Speaker determines who is recognized to speak on the floor along with selecting what bills are considered for debate or vote.


Oct 3, 2023: Ground hogs’ day ala Congress… fast forward


Representative Matt Gaetz R-FL introduces a resolution “Motion to Vacate”. Eight republicans: Andy Biggs AZ-5, Ken Buck CO-4; Tim Burchett TN-2; Eli Crane AZ-2; Matt Gaetz FL-1; Nancy Mace SC-1; and Matt Rosendale MT-2, alongside all Democratic House members voting in favor, passing the resolution to oust McCarthy.


The vacate vote came days after the speaker made a bipartisan SHORT TERM deal with the Democrats ,to avert a government shutdown. McCarthy then became the first speaker in history to be removed from office, a bitter humiliation that came after less than nine months on the job.


Lack of a speaker in the beginning and subsequently having a powerless Speaker pro- tempore for three weeks was a major disruption to House business.


A 3-week Roller Coaster Ride ensues… Hang On!


Interim Speaker Patrick McHenry takes over, designated by former Speaker upon exiting. Rumors surface about a list of 8 -10 reps contemplating a run.


Steve Scalise LA-1 majority leader of the house, considered running then withdraws the next day, citing the need to focus on his health.


GOP Caucus returns to closed door meetings, emerging with the nomination of Jim Jordan.


Jordon garnered 200 votes on the first round just shy of the required 217.


Regrouping after the loss, Jordan acolytes’ resort to strong arm tactics similar to Trump, threatening to primary representatives to gain their support.

In an X Post  made by Rep Dr. Marriannette Miller-Meeks, IA-1 links voting against Jordan to receiving a death threat.




Additionally, Ken Buck R-CO went on record saying "So far I’ve had four death threats.”


Jordon’s quest to become speaker ended after losing two more rounds of votes.


Rep. Jim Banks, IN speaks out while exiting the next caucus meeting “ It’s the biggest F-U to Republican voters, I have ever seen…. We need to elect a Speaker”. Later talking about expanding pro tempore speaker McHenry’s powers “it’s a big mistake, and over half of the republicans in that room are against it”.


Following more private caucus meetings weeks later, several potential speaker names emerge: most prominent, Tom Emmer MN, Majority Whip. Emmer, who was not a 2020 election denier, was quickly quashed by Trump.

 

Proposals to expand powers of pro tempore Speaker McHenry fails to gain momentum, s leaving the House without a functional leader.


Finally on October 25, garnering all GOP votes, Mike Johnson is elected Speaker of the House. Many speculate Johnson’s relative anonymity propelled him into the role avoiding potential scrutiny.


Look for a future blog post in this series Who is Speaker Johnson?


Here we go again! Maybe? .....January 2024


The Freedom Caucus, right wing conservative republicans are not happy with Speaker Johnson's negotiations with President Biden to keep the government open. In a behind closed doors meeting January 10th, Speaker Johnson attempted to sell the spending deal he reached with the Democrats, most of the GOP lawmakers weren't buying it.


Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told Fox News he’s wouldn't say what it would take to trigger a motion to vacate, and Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., said “a lot of people are talking about”.


“These guys are unable to govern and they’re unfit to govern and that’s what you saw today,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.


Will Speaker Johnson make it? Time will tell.




House Oversight Committee: Weaponization of the Federal Government


Kentucky Rep. James Comer’s Oversight Committee convened one of it's first hearing back in July 2023, hearing sensationally titled “Protecting Speech From Government Interference and Social Media Bias, Part 1: Twitter’s Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story.”


Witnesses from Twitter, hand selected by the GOP committee, undermined most if not of the GOP presented flawed theories.


What did come up was how the former WH administration’s attempted to censor model Chrissy Teigen’s criticism of the former President Trump, and NOTHING at all to substantiate any of their outlandish claims about Hunter Biden’s laptop.


As the meeting ensued, countless witnesses failed to support their false accusation’s, GOP committee members attempted to ignore their testimony and offered more unsubstantiated claims against the Bidden family. It blew up right in front of them, when Rep Dan Goldman D-NY, called out one of Rep. James Comer’s lies about Hunter Biden. Comer was speechless, with no rebutals offered to Rep Goldman; as reported by Bloomberg, tried to move the hearing along and then suggested a bathroom break.


Doing former President Trump's bidding, the GOP led House Oversight committee has partisan impeachment retribution as it's primary task:

  • Unsubstantiated claims of Hunter Biden's criminal activity involving President Biden

  • Impeachment investigation of President Biden

  • Impeachment of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas



US House Republicans obsession with Hunter Biden


Watch the latest meeting in January 2024, to see how your elected Republican legislators conduct themselves in a House Oversight Committee hearing. Might as well been a food fight or a Saturday Night Live skit, certainly not how we expect a US Congress member to behave.



Photo obtained from the YouTube video


SC Rep Nancy Mace "Mr. Biden 'you have no balls' and asserting that he should be 'arrested right here, right now and go straight to jail,' were not only disrespectful and degrading but an affront to the basic principles of our legal system."


The World is on Fire!


Now is not the time to put politics ahead of country and mankind.

  • No legislation including emergency funding could be passed

  • Looming government shut down

  • War in Ukraine funding running out

  • Hamas killed 1400+ Israelis took 240+ hostages while invading Israel


Keep in mind that the Speaker of the House is second in the line of succession to the President. What if any of this escalates with no Speaker?


What does the GOP say……. Rep Graves LA-6 You can’t offer subpoenas, you can’t go after Hunter Biden, you can’t go after any of the controversies that this administration has carried out”.



What is the impact of all this?


So how has this lack of leadership impacted the work produced by the House of Representatives? One entire month LOST of precious time to legislate, during a time of unrest with wars in Ukraine and Middle East, democracy under attack, and another looming government shutdown.


The most dramatic impact will be on the number of bills introduced. As we watched the weeks spent by the GOP to select their leader, v4c frequently wondered when are they ever going to legislate?






The first 4 months of a two year congressional session is crucial, when the majority if not all legislation is introduced. This gives time for a bill to move through committees, get modified, then return to the floor for vote. Delays in January to get underway coupled with no business conducted in October will limit the number of bills being introduced.




So naturally the second year or the end of a Congressional session is spent enacting or passing laws as you can see on the graph above.


So how has the 118th Congress preformed?



Do the Math….the numbers don’t lie


The table below depicts the number of bills and resolutions introduced during this session thus far compared with the 117th Congress. Even though we are only half way through the 118th Congress, the numbers below indicate this Congress is significantly behind the previous session. It is also important to note that the 117thCongress while under democratic control, also had a similar slim margin of control, negating blaming the opposing party blocking legislation.


When blog was first published November 10, 2023



As of January 13, 2023

Very little progress in 3 months


Read more here: House Dysfunction by the Numbers: 724 Votes, Only 27 Laws Enacted; Annie Karni, NYT, Dec 19, 2023


We can’t help to wonder if similar events were to occur in the corporate sector, what actions would be taken?


We also ask why does it seem that the GOP placed their own political interests ahead of what America, it citizens and the world needs today?


Click here to read more about how the House Republicans are using an obscure rule to slash Federal employees wages.


Vote 4 Change's Voter Guide is provided to help Americans cast informed votes that can make a difference.

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Guest
Nov 17, 2023

i suspect Independents will vote for Democrats as a result of the instability in the House. Allowing a very small faction of extremism to stop our Government is Not Democracy.. The inability to accomplish needed legislation is a failure to do the work. I suggest change in their pay and benefits structure. Clearly they have become part time workerS. Like the rest of our economy, part time workers receive few benefits and struggle with minimum wages.

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While pay adjustments work in the private sector, I am not sure how effective it will be in Congress as many legislators have other jobs, business', and accumulated wealth prior to entering office. Your vote to keep or not re-elect legislators is the best option.

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Planning a future follow up blog taking a look at the New Speaker Mike Johnson

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Guest
Nov 17, 2023
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1st item in budget cut discussion MUST BE the reduction of pay and benefits for all members of the House and Senate. They act like middle schoolers and have accomplished NONE of the Legislative work to improve the lives of the constituents. 2nd item is to form a people’s review of ethics in Congress and the Supreme Court. Let the People finalize the reforms

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