Republicans assume divided control of the Lower House

The Republican Party assumes control of the House of Representatives as of today after the narrow conservative victory in the body, by 222 to 213 seats, in the legislative elections on November 8.

Thomas Osborne
Thomas Osborne
02 January 2023 Monday 21:30
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Republicans assume divided control of the Lower House

The Republican Party assumes control of the House of Representatives as of today after the narrow conservative victory in the body, by 222 to 213 seats, in the legislative elections on November 8. The new stage, in the second half of Joe Biden's term, begins with the election of the new president of the House. And the candidate of the new majority, Kevin McCarthy, had not secured the necessary votes yesterday to be elected on the first ballot. This, despite having accepted to a large extent the conditions that a group of ultras of the party – initially five, but now up to fourteen – proposed days ago with the declared purpose of articulating a highly inquisitive opposition to the management of the Democratic president and his team.

McCarthy, a 57-year-old Californian, needs 218 votes to be elected first time if all representatives attend and vote in Tuesday's inaugural session. The rules of the Chamber for the election of the so-called speaker require that the candidate obtain the majority of the votes that are nominally issued with mention of a name. Those absent do not count and, therefore, lower the threshold necessary to reach that majority. And attendees can also choose to say “present”, the equivalent of abstaining. If by the time of the vote the situation remained as critical Republicans made it out yesterday, McCarthy would have to submit to at least a second vote, perhaps more. And this has never happened in over a hundred years with a first-time candidate in the nation's third-ranking position.

Over the weekend, Democratic successor Nancy Pelosi partially agreed to a demand from rogue Republicans that would clearly weaken her position from the moment she takes office: drop the number of House representatives needed to five to force a vote on the expulsion of the president (that is, his, if necessary). That threshold is now set at at least half of the Republican parliamentary group (currently 111 votes), according to internal rules adopted in November. But the five groupmates who announced weeks ago that they will not support McCarthy if he does not submit to their dictates are not satisfied with the minimum of five and are asking that this vote of no confidence be provoked by only one of their parliamentarians. A humiliating proposal.

On top of that, the five dissidents were joined over the weekend by another nine who considered the applicant's offers as "late and insufficient", although they added that perhaps the "progress" achieved would be "useful".

Among those nine discontents, the representative for Pennsylvania and president of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, Scott Perry, and the influential Texan congressman Chip Roy stand out.

“The times demand a radical departure from the status quo, not a continuation of past and current Republican failures,” said those nine dissenting in their statement. And they added that, "with a presence of fourteen years in the Republican leadership of the House", McCarthy has on his shoulders the responsibility of "correcting the dysfunction" of which, for them, he is one of the main culprits.

What dysfunction are they referring to? For these and other members of the sector more to the right of the Republican Party, including Donald Trump and theirs, the leaders of the formation in the House and the Senate have not been belligerent enough to date to demand accountability from Biden and oppose to its economic, tax and social policies.

Under pressure from that hard wing of the party and after a victory in the Lower House that they were unable to extend to the Senate, the conservatives now propose to investigate the "abuses of power" by the FBI and the CIA under the Biden Administration; politically prosecute or demand accountability from the Secretary of National Security, Alejandro Mayorka, for his immigration management, and create a commission on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.

The ultras' plans also include an in-depth examination of the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 and a commission to investigate the "involvement" of President Biden in the dubious businesses of his son Hunter, whom the FBI is investigating. of course tax fraud and false statement about the purchase of a gun.

A good part of the conservatives are also reluctant to continue financing Ukraine's resistance to the Russian invasion; at least in as generous and unconditional way as up to now. But the resistance to maintaining such aid, channeled however for that year with a general budget of 45,000 million dollars that Congress will have to shell out, is not unanimous among the Republicans; the same as more and more political issues and issues, including of course the one related to the future that former president Donald Trump should have, or not: the most divisive figure in the country... And beyond.