After 14 failed attempts and numerous concessions to MAGA Republicans, Kevin McCarthy was elected US speaker of the House for the 118th Congress on a 15th vote last week. With that behind them, Speaker McCarthy and the Republican-controlled House got down to business this week, assigning chairs for committees, enacting rules to govern the chamber for the next two years, and advancing their legislative agenda. McCarthy’s first week in “control” of the House featured action on top priorities for Republicans that don’t relate to the top concerns of most Americans or support working families trying to stay afloat.
What were the top five priorities for Speaker McCarthy and MAGA Republicans in their first week of legislative activity?
#1 Protect Ultra-Rich Tax Cheats.
The first legislation passed by Republicans would roll back investments enacted by President Biden and Democrats in the Inflation Reduction Act to empower the IRS to investigate billionaires and wealthy corporations that pay little to nothing in federal taxes. The bill would repeal nearly all of the $80 billion in new funding over ten years that was allocated for the IRS to hire the staff to investigate the complex tax filings of the ultra-rich. Without the necessary resources to pursue these investigations, the US will lose an estimated $7 trillion to ultra-rich tax cheats over the next decade.
- 99% PA Campaign Statement: US House MAGA Republicans’ Top Priority is Protecting Ultra-Rich Tax Cheats, Not Supporting Hard-Working Americans
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: House GOP’s First Bill: A Misleading Gambit to Protect Interests of Wealthy Tax Cheats
- Americans for Tax Fairness: In First Legislative Vote, Top Priority for New GOP House is Protecting Rich Tax Cheats
- Health Care for America Now: New GOP House Majority Prioritizes Shielding the Ultra Rich from Paying their Fair Share of Taxes on Their First Day
#2 Restrict Access to Abortion.
Speaker McCarthy and the House majority’s second priority: legislation to further restrict abortion by allowing politicians to interfere in personal family decisions (HR 26), as well as advancing a resolution meant to muddy the waters and deflect attention from their unpopular anti-choice agenda (H.Con.Res.3) . Additional bills to undermine access to abortion were also introduced.
- Newsweek: Abortion-Rights Groups Attack GOP’s ‘Extremist’ Born Alive Abortion Bill
- NARAL: NARAL Pro-Choice America Condemns House GOP Passage of Assault on Abortion as Democrats Close Ranks Around Reproductive Freedom
#3 Establish House Rules to Fast-Track the MAGA Agenda and Cut Vital Services.
In exchange for the votes of MAGA extremists who opposed him, Speaker McCarthy agreed to new House rules that give disproportionate power to Trump loyalists and insurrectionists. Any single member can call for a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair — essentially beginning the process to remove McCarthy from the chair — and rules are in place that put up steep barriers to investments in critical national needs, while expediting more tax cuts for corporations and the ultra-rich by cutting funding for health care, education, and defense. This summer, when Congress will need to act to keep the US from defaulting on its loans — something that would result in economic catastrophe — these rules will allow a minority of MAGA Republicans to hold the nation hostage in exchange for huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other essential programs.
- The Hill: McCarthy’s concessions spur fears of potential default, government shutdown
- Roll Call: McCarthy concessions raise stakes on budget, debt limit
- Associated Press: US to max out on debt soon, setting up political fight
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: House Republican Rules Package Designed to Enable Skewed Priorities
#4 Appoint 2020 Election Deniers, January 6th Insurrectionists, and Other MAGA Extremists to Positions of Power.
Speaker McCarthy’s deal with MAGA Republicans required him to give them three seats on the Rules Committee, allowing extremists to exercise enormous control over what gets to the House floor. McCarthy also appointed MAGA members as chairs of very powerful committees, including 2020 elections deniers Jodey Arrington (Budget Committee chair), Jason Smith (Ways and Means Committee,) Mark Green (Homeland Security Committee chair), and Mike Rogers (Armed Services Committee). Even January 6th insurrectionist Scott Perry of Pennsylvania landed a seat on a committee to investigate the FBI.
- The Hill: Handful of McCarthy detractors get new top committee assignments
- Rolling Stone: A Guide to the House GOP’s Unhinged Week of Lies, Revenge, and Infighting
- Reuters: U.S. House Republican probed over Jan. 6 attack may now investigate FBI
#5 Establish a Culture that Permits Unethical Behavior (by Republicans).
New York freshman George Santos was elected based on a bogus bio — recently uncovered lies included fabrications about his family background, education, employment history, and life experiences — and Republican leaders in his home community, who worked to elect him, have called for his resignation. Speaker McCarthy has refused to call for his resignation and, further, indicated that Santos will not lose any committee assignments, communicating clearly that unethical behavior by GOP representatives will be tolerated in the MAGA Republican House.
- CNN: McCarthy stands by Santos despite growing calls for resignation from other GOP lawmakers
- Axios: McCarthy’s George Santos problem
Speaker McCarthy and MAGA Republicans have made clear this week that they will spend the next two years advancing an extremist agenda that doesn’t address the concerns of most Americans or support working families struggling with the high cost of living.