Early on Saturday morning, after days of negotiations and 15 roll call votes, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) became House speaker after giving major concessions to a group of Republican holdouts, largely belonging to the House Freedom Caucus, granting some of the chamber’s most conservative members a massive increase in influence.
McCarthy’s concessions include placing House Freedom Caucus members on key committees, changes to how the House is run, and the creation of a committee which will conduct a major investigation into the FBI.
“I feel like the American people won. I feel that the House of Representatives will be a healthier institution,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a staunch member of the opposition to McCarthy, told the New York Post. “Many of these things had been resisted by Kevin McCarthy as early as Monday and now we have an exquisite rules package.”
Critics of the opposition were accused of grandstanding, but in the end McCarthy reportedly gave in to most of the group’s demands. Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) said that the “juice was worth the squeeze.”
Perry and other members of the opposition posted lists of concessions they had gained from McCarthy to earn their vote. Among these were a budget which does not allow the debt ceiling to increase, an end to all COVID mandates and funding, a term limit vote, single subject bills, a vote on a border security plan, and the allowance of at least 72 hours given for members to read bills.
In addition, any member will be allowed to introduce a motion to vacate the chair, meaning that members can demand a vote to remove the speaker from the position. Another concession would create an open amendment process to bills, making it easier for lawmakers to change bills during debate.
“Any power that limits the speaker’s power is a step in the right direction,” said one Freedom Caucus staffer. “The Freedom Caucus is more relevant than ever, and McCarthy won’t be able to get anything done without our endorsement and support.”
Freedom Caucus members will also be reportedly placed on the Rules Committee and the Appropriations Committee, both of which are crucial to the operation of the House and how funding is allocated.
McCarthy also promised that a Church-style committee will be formed to investigate politicization in the FBI. The Church Committee investigated CIA abuses in the 1970s, which led to the exposure of things like the infamous MKULTRA program.
“With the rules agreement we negotiated, we will have a powerful Church-style committee to go after the weaponization of the federal government – the FBI, DOJ, DHS, and all the rest,” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC). “This is a victory for the Constitutional rights of all Americans.”
Former Trump admin official and president of the Center for Renewing America Russ Vought praised the holdouts for the concessions gained from McCarthy. “This agreement would not be possible but for the early and immediate five members who defined the art of the possible by publicly declaring their opposition to Mr. McCarthy,” Vought said.
The rules package will go to vote in the House on Monday, which may create another fight among Republicans, as Texas Rep. Tony Gonzalez, a moderate, has already promised to vote against it.
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