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Legislative Update - January 09, 2023

The House returns to Washington to vote on the rules package for the 118th Congress in the lower chamber. The Senate will remain in recess until Monday, January 23.

After 15 rounds of voting, the House of Representatives elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as Speaker of the House. Speaker McCarthy won by a vote of 216-212-6, becoming the longest vote in 164 years. McCarthy offered various concessions to win the votes of many of the House Freedom Caucus members. The concessions came in the form of the “rules package,” which decides how the House of Representatives will operate and outlines the priorities of the GOP. Negotiations by McCarthy, leadership, and top aides have been ongoing since Republicans won a majority last November. Those negotiations continued until the last round of voting to secure votes from the most conservative members of the Republican Conference (more on those concessions below).

Now Speaker McCarthy must pivot to passing a rules package. McCarthy swayed the most conservative members to win the Speaker’s gavel, and now must convince moderate members to vote for the package. Currently, Reps. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) have publicly stated they may vote against the rules package. Leadership can only lose four votes in the effort to pass the package. A 55-page public rules package exists with changes to the rules that will govern the House of Representatives for at least the next two years. Not featured in that version of the package are a reported three additional pages of rules negotiated over the 6 days needed to secure the necessary votes for Speakership. Some of the concessions and other changes in the rules package include:

  • An agreement to allow any single House member to offer a resolution that would force a vote on removing the Speaker from office. In 2018 after winning the majority, Democrats modified the rule to allow for such a motion only if offered at the direction of the Democratic Caucus or Republican Conference. Upon winning the majority in November, the GOP plan was to require that at least five Republicans offer such a resolution, and now it’s just one.
  •  Separate votes on each of the 12 appropriations bills rather than one omnibus spending bill.
  • Lawmakers will have 72 hours to review bills before they appear on the House floor.
  • When a bill is introduced, it must be limited to a single subject.
  • Creates a point of order against floor rules that waive the House’s germaneness rule. That rule provides that an amendment must address the same subject as the matter being amended.
  • Promises to vote on bills representing key issues for conservative lawmakers, including abortion, border security, and other legislative priorities.

Members of the House were sworn in and will begin work by voting on the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act (H.R. 23), a bill to rescind $80 billion in IRS funding approved as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. This bill was a top priority of House Republicans and will symbolically serve as the first legislative item to receive a vote. The House will work through votes on several committee chairs, including Homeland Security, Ways and Means, Budget, & Education and the Workforce.