House Votes to Adopt Rules Package That Dissidents Demanded, McCarthy Accepted

House Votes to Adopt Rules Package That Dissidents Demanded, McCarthy Accepted
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) during a hearing in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Dec. 18, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott

Republicans held a spirited debate over the proposed rules to govern how the House of Representatives does its business in the 118th Congress and then adopted a major package of reforms they say will restore accountability and transparency for the public.

The 55-page rules package was approved on a 220–213 vote that followed Republicans defeating a Democratic motion to recommit the rules package to a committee for revision. Both of the votes were conducted with a newly adopted five-minute rule. Previously, most House votes allowed members 15 minutes to cast their ballots.

All 212 Democrats voted against the rules. One Republican, Rep. Tony Gonzalez of Texas, joined Democrats in voting against the rules package, citing his concerns about not cutting defense spending. Another Texas Republican, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, did not vote.

The reforms include restoration of a long-standing rule terminated by the previous Democratic-controlled House that enabled any individual member to move that the speaker’s chair be vacated, which if adopted forces a new vote for a speaker of the House. The rules also restore the right of individual members to offer amendments to legislation from the floor, require that all members have 72 hours to read proposed legislation before it is voted on, and require bills brought to the floor to cover a single subject.

House Majority Leader Stephen Scalise (R-La.) opened the rules debate by noting that “at the heart of all the discussions is that Washington is broken, and not just that Washington is broken, but the way that this House has been running in the last few years has not been designed to address the problems of the people across the country.”

Then-House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), speaks during a Senate hearing in Washington on Sept. 23, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Then-House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), speaks during a Senate hearing in Washington on Sept. 23, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Scalise claimed that “many of the problems that families are facing across America were created by the things that have come out of this Congress, signed by President [Joe] Biden. Why is inflation running away? Because spending is out of control because bills from the dark of night, where members are not allowed to give input in committee or on the floor, to address problems they know their constituents will face if these bills are passed and they’re passed because they are written in rooms behind closed doors by a small number of people not concerned about the consequences that will affect so many people across this nation.”

Responding to Scalise, outgoing House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who managed the Democratic response on the House floor to the Republicans in the rules debate, claimed that “our Republicans campaigned that they can fight inflation and fight for the American people but instead all they have done is come to Washington and fight with each other.”

McGovern’s successor as chairman of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) was the Republican floor manager during the debate on the rules package.

McGovern claimed the Republican majority “has been hijacked by the MAGA faction,” referring to House supporters of former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) policy agenda. He also cited media reports that the published rules package does not include a three-page memorandum that captures other concessions made by newly elected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to the 20 populist conservative dissident GOPers who opposed his election.

McGovern repeatedly challenged somebody on the Republican side to put the alleged memorandum into the Congressional Record. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) told colleagues that there is no such memorandum. Hill was deeply involved in the negotiations with the dissidents on behalf of McCarthy.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) at a hearing in Washington, on Dec. 17, 2019. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) at a hearing in Washington, on Dec. 17, 2019. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

In what became a summary of the repeated Democratic critique of the Republican rules package, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said: “After a week of chaos, we now have a rules package for MAGA extremists, attacking our freedoms and every responsibility of this body, from paying America’s bills to funding our government. This package criminalizes abortion by advancing bills that attack access and health with a single hearing or markup.”

Other Democrats used the rules debate as an opportunity to accuse Republicans of depriving women of health care, and predicted that enactment of the GOP rules would pit Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs against defense spending.

District of Columbia (D.C.) Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton also used the rules package debate to accuse Republicans of depriving the mayor of D.C. of floor privileges and opposing efforts to grant the district statehood. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) accused the Republicans of using the rules package to defund the police.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), responding to Democratic complaints about the alleged three-page memorandum, said: “Everybody keeps running around in classic Swamp-Speak talking about secret deals, secret addendums. What we are talking about is how people come to an agreement in this town to ensure that we’re going to carry out what we said we are going to do. The rules package is on full display. The rules package has been been on display and publicly available since Friday.”

Roy continued, acknowledging that “yes, we’ve had conversations and agreements as individuals are supposed to do, looking each other in the eye and saying we’re going to bring balanced budgets to the floor of the House. You bet that we’ve got agreements that we are going to do that.

“You bet we’ve had agreements that we are going to bring the Texas border plan to make sure we secure the border rather than perpetuating the fraud the president of the United States continues to perpetuate, endangering the American people. You bet we’re bringing forward legislation that set term limits because the American people are tired of a House that doesn’t represent them.”

Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.
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