Republicans start the new year with a gift to Donald Trump
A last-ditch effort by Kevin McCarthy to salvage his wavering bid to lead the House could be a gift for Donald Trump, whose fate regarding his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot rests in the hands of the incoming GOP majority.
In a series of calls with fellow Republicans over the weekend, McCarthy – the House Minority Leader and top contender for House Speaker – sought to broker a deal with extreme members right of his party who remain on the fence about his taking office and likely threaten his ability to garner the votes he needs.
According to accounts of the calls detailed by Congress and members of the press, McCarthy proposed changing a number of House rules, including one that would allow a sitting Speaker of the House to be replaced by just five votes. of members, among other concessions to the hardliners of his party.
McCarthy’s campaign to become president also includes a bid to restore a law of House procedure known as the Holman Rule, a more than century-old provision that allowed members to make changes to programs spending to cut salaries or lay off specific federal employees, or even cut specific programs from the budget.
Although the provision has been largely obsolete since it was abolished from House standing orders in 1983, several GOP members hesitant to have McCarthy as chair — including the House Freedom Caucus — have previously suggested they want it be reinstated as they prepare to begin scrutiny of several Biden administration agencies he opposes, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Newsweek contacted McCarthy’s office for comment.
McCarthy has previously indicated he will honor requests from far-right members of his conference, like Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, to investigate Biden administration officials like the Homeland Security Secretary. Alejandro Mayorkas for their handling of the immigration crisis in the United States and Mexico. frontier.
But their list also includes law enforcement figures such as FBI Director Christopher Wray, who is investigating Trump’s illegal deletion of classified documents after he left the White House. Some Republican members of the House have even gone so far as to suggest that Congress decide to withdraw funding from the FBI, which they and Trump say is politically motivated to retaliate against the former president for his efforts to overturn the results. of the 2020 presidential election.
Measures like that, along with a suggestion from one of McCarthy’s challengers for the speaking position, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, to defund parts of the Ministry of Justice use of the Holman Rule – would have obvious implications for the agency’s ongoing investigations into Trump’s actions in relation to the Jan. 6 riot. As a result, Democrat-led efforts to see the former president tried for crimes he may have committed during and after his tenure could be jeopardized.
“Republicans could also attempt to defund any investigation into Trump, or even to quash investigations and prosecutions related to the January 6, 2021 attack,” Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent wrote in an August 2022 column about the reinstatement of the Holman rule. “They could do it without the more unlikely act of defunding the entire FBI.”
But it’s also an open question whether that would actually happen. Any amendments proposed by House Republicans would still have to win approval in the Democratic-controlled Senate, meaning any showdown over funding the Trump investigations could result in long and arduous congressional standoffs over federal spending programs.
Meanwhile, McCarthy’s public attempts to drum up support for his presidential bid have been largely unsuccessful. While he proposed introducing language into the rules that would make it easier to remove him, he was firmly rejected by his opponents, for whom a McCarthy presidency is non-negotiable.
“The times call for a radical break with the status quo — not a continuation of past and current Republican failures,” reads a joint Jan. 1 letter signed by nine members of the House Freedom Caucus.
“For someone with a 14-year tenure in the House Republican leadership, Mr. McCarthy squarely bears the burden of correcting the dysfunction he now explicitly admits during this long tenure,” the letter said.