In an effort to persuade his defections to vote for him in the Jan. 3rd floor vote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R. CA) made some key concessions as he struggles to secure the votes to speaker.
Here are the major changes McCarthy made to the rules on Sunday with House Republicans. It may not be enough for McCarthy to win over his opponents.
Sensitivity to motion to vacate chair
McCarthy made a significant concession by lowering the threshold for the motion to vacate chair — a procedural tool to oust a sitting Speaker that was used by House Freedom Caucus members to press former Speaker John Boehner, R-OH to resign. New rules allow only five GOP members to force a vote to remove the speaker. This is a compromise that was negotiated by one of the hardliners, but less than the minimum half of the GOP conference adopted in November.
Multiple conservatives stated that the motion to vacate was their “red line” for backing him in the position. Hardliners, however, asserted they believe the rule should return to its original form with only one member of the executive branch holding the power.
McCarthy conceded to reducing the number to five but his defectionors claim that it does not go far enough to hold McCarthy accountable for the promises he made at the conference.
Moderate GOP lawmakers have opposed the change, arguing the threshold reduction could be used to leverage key decisions made by the razor-thin majority.
Fiscal changes by bringing back the Holman Rule
In exchange for support from the next Speaker of the House, conservatives demanded cuts in spending and the return of the “Holman Rule” mechanism to allow members to make specific cuts to bureaucrats’ salaries.
The new rules package, which was unveiled late Sunday night, requires that the Congressional Budget Office conduct an analysis of bills’ inflation impact and reinstate the “three fifths supermajority” in the House for tax rate increases.
If the package is passed, a “cut-as you-go” or CUTGO rule will be reinstated. This requires that spending increases be offset by smaller or more drastic cuts in mandatory spending, and “eliminating budget gimmicks created by Democrat PAYGO.”
In an attempt to stop the lower chamber suspending the debt ceiling automatically after passing a budget resolution, the Democrats’ “Gephardt rule” would be also scrapped.
Changes to the committee process/new sub- or select committees
The bill calls for the establishment of a Select Subcommittee to the Weaponization and the Federal Government. This would be under the control of the House Judiciary Committee.
The Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States of China Communist Party would also get established. Modifications to the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic would also be made to allow it to concentrate its investigation on the source and effects of the virus and gain-of function research.
Panels will have to “establish oversight programs detailing how they will hold Biden’s administration accountable.”
The House Committee on Education and Labor would be renamed the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
A new process would be established for the House Ethics Committee to handle complaints from the public. Additionally, a bipartisan task force would “conduct an extensive review of House ethics rules”
The rules would also restore “Calendar Wednesday” — which allows committee chairs to bring reported bills to the House for consideration under an open amend process. Reform the process by ensuring that the 72-hour notice required for all other measures is given.
Reopening of the Capitol and elimination pandemic protocols
The 117th Congress made pandemic-era changes that will be mostly gone. Remote committee work and proxy voting are slated to be eliminated.
Proxy voting has been criticized by Republicans despite the fact that many Republicans use it. Critics argue that legislators should be present at work and not “phone in” to vote.
Republicans will also make a return to two-minute voting as they take control. The votes have been extended to allow for social distancing at the height of the pandemic.
Fines for violating mask mandates will be eliminated as well as magnetometers in the House chamber that were installed after the Jan. 6th riot at Capitol.
Eliminating staff labor unions
Democrats granted congressional offices the freedom to unionize last fiscal year. Proponents claimed it was a positive step towards worker rights.
Republicans, however, were largely critical of the move, arguing it could have unintended consequences. The GOP is set to take control, and the new rules package promises to eliminate “staff labor Unions” so that Congressional staff can be accountable to elected officials.