top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

GOP rebels are breaking the rule on rules, upending how the House works

By Carl Hulse


It has long been an axiom of the House majority: Vote against a piece of legislation put forth by your party if you absolutely must, but never, ever vote against the “rule” to bring that legislation to the floor.


Until the last few weeks, that standard had held for more than two decades. But now, about a dozen rebellious House Republicans have decided to leverage their badly needed votes on the routine procedural measures to win policy concessions, breaking the long-standing code of party discipline and threatening the traditional operation of the House.


“Who cares?” asked Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., one of the members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus who broke with their party on the rule last week, resulting in a very rare defeat that ground the chamber to a halt for a week.


“I could care less, and neither could my voters,” he said about violating a House norm. “Tradition be damned; we have to change the way this town works.”


But making such changes would fundamentally alter the nature of the House. Unlike the Senate, where consensus is required to move forward on virtually anything, the House operates according to strict majority rule, making party unity critical to the smooth functioning of business.


It could also greatly complicate life for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, with potentially disastrous consequences for the country. With a razor-thin margin of control, if all Democrats are present and voting “no,” he can afford to lose no more than four Republicans and still win approval of the rules that are required to bring most major legislation to the floor.


Should the group of Republicans continue their procedural resistance, it would sow chaos for McCarthy’s efforts to legislate, potentially upending the consideration of government spending bills needed to avert a shutdown this fall. Their new strategy gives the mutineers, who lack the votes to oust McCarthy, significant power over the speaker and his agenda.


They were outraged over McCarthy’s deal with President Joe Biden to suspend the debt limit and avert a federal default, which included spending caps far higher than what House ReBy CARL HULSE


It has long been an axiom of the House majority: Vote against a piece of legislation put forth by your party if you absolutely must, but never, ever vote against the “rule” to bring that legislation to the floor.


Until the last few weeks, that standard had held for more than two decades. But now, about a dozen rebellious House Republicans have decided to leverage their badly needed votes on the routine procedural measures to win policy concessions, breaking the long-standing code of party discipline and threatening the traditional operation of the House.


“Who cares?” asked Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., one of the members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus who broke with their party on the rule last week, resulting in a very rare defeat that ground the chamber to a halt for a week.


“I could care less, and neither could my voters,” he said about violating a House norm. “Tradition be damned; we have to change the way this town works.”


But making such changes would fundamentally alter the nature of the House. Unlike the Senate, where consensus is required to move forward on virtually anything, the House operates according to strict majority rule, making party unity critical to the smooth functioning of business.


It could also greatly complicate life for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, with potentially disastrous consequences for the country. With a razor-thin margin of control, if all Democrats are present and voting “no,” he can afford to lose no more than four Republicans and still win approval of the rules that are required to bring most major legislation to the floor.


Should the group of Republicans continue their procedural resistance, it would sow chaos for McCarthy’s efforts to legislate, potentially upending the consideration of government spending bills needed to avert a shutdown this fall. Their new strategy gives the mutineers, who lack the votes to oust McCarthy, significant power over the speaker and his agenda.


They were outraged over McCarthy’s deal with President Joe Biden to suspend the debt limit and avert a federal default, which included spending caps far higher than what House Re

25 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page