Friday’s Five Fast Facts about Federal Priorities: What’s Been Happening in Washington, DC, this Week?

Jeff Garis |

Friday, January 20, 2023

The US House and Senate have been in recess this week, but there have been plenty of announcements and actions that further reveal the priorities of the MAGA Republican majority in the US House and the promises Kevin McCarthy made to become the speaker. Here are five major developments and moments of demarcation on federal priorities during the last week.

#1 Preventing a US credit default and economic catastrophe will be a central battle in Congress in 2023. House MAGA Republicans are holding our economy hostage, demanding huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other essential services … or else!

Dig Deeper

Roll Call: “Parties dig in for protracted fight over debt ceiling” | 1/17/23

The Hill: “McCarthy tries to get out of his box on debt ceiling | 1/20/23

Politico: “US hits debt limit. What now?” | 1/19/23

Roll Call: “Treasury launches ‘extraordinary measures’ to delay debt limit” | 1/19/23

Axios: “What to know about extraordinary measures as debt ceiling hits” | 1/19/23

The Hill: “Treasury resorts to ‘extraordinary measures’ after US hits debt limit” | 1/19/23

#2 Kevin McCarthy continues to follow through on the “deals” he made to become US House speaker, appointing more MAGA extremists to powerful committees in Congress. Pennsylvania congressman Scott Perry, who emerged as a central figure in the January 6th Commission’s investigation of efforts to overturn the 2020 election, was appointed by Speaker McCarthy to the powerful House Oversight and Accountability Committee. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who uses violent, political rhetoric against other members of Congress, is now on the Homeland Security Committee, and even freshman Rep. George Santos was appointed to the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, presumably based on his achievements as an astronaut and nuclear physicist.

Dig Deeper

The Bulwark: “The New Face(s) of the GOP: Clowns with flamethrowers” | 1/20/23

The Hill: “Six takeaways from House committee assignments so far” | 1/19/23

Media Matters: “Alex Jones gets a congressional proxy with Marjorie Taylor Greene’s committee assignment” | 1/17/23

#3 Three Congressmen from Pennsylvania are emerging as key power-players in the new MAGA Republican majority in the US House: “Freedom Caucus Leader” Scott Perry (PA-10), sometimes-moderate Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), and new chief deputy whip Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14).

Dig Deeper

The Hill: “These are the House GOP power players in the 118th Congress” | 1/19/23

Politico: “The Real Power in the New Congress Isn’t Where Matt Gaetz Thinks It Is” | 1/13/23

CNN: “House GOP’s swing votes demand talks on debt ceiling and push back on White House’s hard-line stance” | 1/19/23

6ABC Action News: “1-on-1 with GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick” | 1/17/23

Vox: “This one procedural tool can keep Kevin McCarthy from blowing up the economy” | 1/14/23

#4 MAGA Republicans continue to advance their agenda in the House, including proposing a nationwide regressive sales tax that would benefit billionaires and take more away from workers and families. This comes on the heels of last week’s party-line vote to protect billionaire tax cheats — the first legislative vote of the House Republican majority.

Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy: “‘Fair Tax’ Plan Would Abolish the IRS and Shift Federal Taxes from the Wealthy to the Rest of Us” | 1/11/23

Market Watch: “‘I will flat veto them’: Biden pledges to reject Republican tax bills” | 1/12/23

The Hill: “Biden knocks ‘fiscally demented’ Republicans in MLK Day speech” | 1/16/23

Politico: “House GOP tempts fall government shutdown with impossible spending demands” | 1/13/23

The Hill: “Top Democratic appropriator presses agency heads for impact of proposed GOP spending cuts” | 1/19/23

#5 This week marks the second anniversary of the Biden-Harris administration, providing an opportunity to review the many victories for working families that were won during the last two years. Some of the wins were achieved with bipartisan effort in the US Senate, such as December’s 2022-23 omnibus funding package and the transformative Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This is what it looks like when elected officials act on the broadly shared priorities of the people.

Associated Press: “By the numbers: President Biden at the two-year mark” | 1/19/23

Newsweek: “How Joe Biden’s First Two Years Compare to Donald Trump’s” | 1/20/23

Washington Post: “On second anniversary in office, Biden touts accomplishments to mayors” | 1/20/23

Building Back Together: “Six Months of Falling Prices Thanks to President Biden’s Economic Leadership” | 1/12/23