The year 2023 has been an eventful one in the halls of Congress, rife with drama, bathos and pivotal developments.
This year, the 118th Congress was recognized as the most racially and ethnically diverse House in U.S. history, with over 130 lawmakers identifying as black, Asian American, American Indian, Alaska Native or multiracial. Additionally, a record number of female lawmakers were sworn in, making up 28% of the House.
A significant moment was the 15-round marathon voting session to elect Kevin McCarthy as speaker, a process that was the longest since 1859. McCarthy’s initial failure to secure the position on the first ballot was a first since December 1923. His eventual election on January 7 marked the first time a speaker was chosen on a nonlegislative calendar day.
In another historic move, the House voted on October 3 to oust McCarthy from the speaker position, the first time in history a speaker was removed by lawmakers. The measure, introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz, passed with a 216–210 vote, leading to McCarthy’s resignation in December.
The House floor witnessed physical altercations during the contentious speaker fight. Notably, a brawl broke out on January 6, involving Reps. Mike Rogers and Matt Gaetz, which was caught on camera and went viral.
After McCarthy’s ouster, the House remained leaderless for three weeks, the longest period without a leader since 1962. Rep/ Mike Johnson was eventually elected as the new speaker on October 25.
The House also voted to oust Rep. George Santos on December 1, making him only the sixth member to be removed from the House in U.S. history. This followed an Ethics Committee investigation that found Santos guilty of multiple violations.
Three Democrats were censured in 2023, a number not seen since 1870. Rep. Adam Schiff faced censure for comments made during the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Rep. Rashida Tlaib was censured for her pro-Palestinian comments, and Rep. Jamaal Bowman was censured for falsely pulling a fire alarm in a congressional office building.
The House experienced its least productive legislative session in over a decade, passing only 329 pieces of legislation, with just 22 becoming law. Despite this, the House conducted the most votes overall in over a decade, with 724 votes.
The House also dealt with changing attendance numbers due to early resignations and the ouster of Santos. The 118th Congress was the third consecutive year the House convened with at least one vacancy. This trend of vacancies is expected to continue into 2024.
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