During his acceptance speech Saturday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said, “now the hard work begins.” But before the House of Representatives can get to work, it needs to approve a rules package. This resolution will govern how the chamber operates for the next two years. Negotiations over what’s in it are a big reason why it took 15 votes for Speaker McCarthy to secure the gavel.
Here are the top highlights:
Motion to vacate
It allows a single member to force a vote on removing the speaker from office. So if any of McCarthy’s opponents don’t like the job he’s doing, they can bring their grievance straight to the floor.
“So I’m not going to say there won’t be one person who tries to abuse that motion, but I’m confident that McCarthy’s going to be able to be given the green light to govern and to lead this conference,” Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said on Meet the Press when asked if McCarthy can last two years without a challenge.
Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic
It creates a 12 member panel that will investigate the pandemic’s origins and look into the U.S. government’s response. The plan is to have 7 Republicans and 5 Democrats, but the speaker will have the final say.
The committee will also try to make a final determination as to whether gain of function research, which is when a virus is artificially strengthened, played a role. According to the National Institutes of Health, that research is done to help virologists understand a virus’ genetic makeup and how it interacts with a host.
On the budget
The rules package replaces what’s called “pay-as-you-go” with “cut-as-you-go.” That will require any spending increases to be offset by equal or greater decreases in other areas. “Pay-as-you-go” allows spending increases to coincide with projected revenue increases. This will have a big impact on government funding negotiations.
There will also be a 72-hour period between when a bill is introduced and when it receives a vote. This is in response to complaints that some massive bills are released and voted on almost immediately without enough time to review what’s in it. That includes the 4,100 page omnibus spending package in December, that was released at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday and voted on Thursday.
Getting the rules approved
Republicans will need to be almost entirely inline with each other to get this package approved. But some members are expressing doubts. They believe McCarthy may have conceded too much to the most conservative lawmakers in order to become speaker.
“I like the rules package. It is the most, open, fair and fiscally conservative package we have had in 30 years. I support it. But what I don’t support is a small number of people trying to get a deal done or deals done for themselves in private, in secret to get a vote or a vote present,” Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Those private deals include getting more conservatives in key committee positions. Some Republicans say because of that, they are either voting no, or are considering voting no.