Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has ensured that conservatives will have a stronger voice in House floor procedure than ever before, as he has decided to stack the House Rules Committee with Republican lawmakers.
In a tweet, McCarthy announced that Republican lawmakers will “work to shift power back to the American people,” and announced assignments for the House Intelligence, Rules, and China competitiveness committees.
Under Dem control, House committees were used to target political opponents and reward allies at the expense of addressing the country's concerns.
That ends now.
These Republican members will work to shift power back to the American people through their respective committees. pic.twitter.com/J5qBO1d3gd
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) January 23, 2023
The Rules Committee has significant influence in the House, deciding if and when legislation receives floor votes, how the chamber votes on the bill, and whether lawmakers are allowed to attach amendments to the bill on the House floor.
McCarthy appointed three strong conservatives to the committee — Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Chip Roy (R-TX), and Ralph Norman (R-SC). These appointments are especially surprising, considering the fact that “historically, allies of House leadership typically received assignments to the Rules Committee. Now, Norman and Roy, who initially opposed McCarthy’s bid for speaker, have been assigned to the committee,” according to Breitbart News.
One of the many concessions discussed during the speaker vote — while McCarthy battled with Norman, Roy and other lawmakers opposed to his speakership — was the appointment of strong conservatives to the Rules Committee.
Both Roy and Massie were also appointed to a newly created subcommittee in the Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the “Weaponization of the Federal Government.”
The appointments of Massie, Roy, and Norman to the Rules Committee is also a change from previous assignments from speakers, as former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was known for kicking conservatives off of committees if they crossed him, while Congress members were reportedly “loath” to offend former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Breitbart News noted.
With Republicans holding a very slim majority in the House, McCarthy’s decision to appoint conservatives to the Rules Committee is very necessary.
“Five of them can easily stop the rule going through. So my take to them is, ‘I want you in here. Your goal is you all work together,’” McCarthy told Punchbowl News. “When this comes out of Rules, you’ve got the microcosm of the conference. There should be no problem on the floor there.”
Speaking about his assignment, Massie said he believes that his role is not to tank bills, but to be the “conscience” of the Rules Committee.
“I don’t intend to ever use my position on there to hold somebody hostage or to hold legislation hostage,” the Kentucky congressman said.
Massie, who leans libertarian, also said that Norman, Roy, and himself could assist Republican leadership with contentious votes.
“For the next two years, five or six people can take down a rule on the floor. And that’s out of 222. I think it’s a lot better to have three people, if you have three people out of three who have a problem with something, you probably have a bigger problem on the floor than five out of 200,” he explained.
Roy also spoke about the appointment, noting that he would continue to fight to make the voting process more open.
“I don’t make commitments to anybody other than my constituents. The thing is you gotta work within the process to try to make things work. Everybody knows I want things to be more open as a general rule. That doesn’t mean every bill. But we should do as we said,” he stated.
Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) commented on the new members of his committee, stating: “These are the speaker’s choices. He’s talked with them all. I’ve talked with them all. These are all members I like and admire. So I think we’ll get along well.”