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AFF Sentinel-Vol 20#02-Lessons and Learning from House Speaker Fight - Part II

Some Members Stand Firm, Shape Rules for House Reform

Steve Dittmer | AFF Sentinel

Colorado Springs, CO

Originally sent to subscribers 01/09/23

Last time we discussed first lessons from the House speaker battle. Here are some more implications of laying new ground rules for this Congress.

Tonight, the House passed those rules as we outlined them, with only one Republican dissent. We’ll add late breaking info at the end of this column.

It has also been pointed out that regular order is not only crucial to reining in spending but also applies to other legislation and regulation. Federal agencies have just been shoveling funds with little Congressional oversight or questioning of the funds. Regulations have been imposed by federal fiefdoms that stifle growth, hamstring businesses and waste taxpayer funds in service to dubious philosophies like controlling the climate, redressing wrongs from hundreds of years ago or trying to make sure no one is offended about anything.

We have written before about Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and his “Ten Thousand Commandments” report, detailing how government regulations stifle the economy and provide a hidden tax on economic growth. Crews told Larry Kudlow in a radio interview that the government itself tallies 332 “economically significant” rules currently in the pipeline. Economically significant, by definition, is “$100 million in annual economic impact.” Count up other regulations close to being formulated and the number is over 600. These regulations function as a hidden tax, Crews said, adding up to as much burden as inflation alone.

The executive orders President Biden characterizes as “modernization” constitute a “whole of government” approach that directs agencies to incorporate rules on climate change, social justice, long Covid and “equity” into social engineering on a huge scale, Crews said. Regulatory agencies are “baking in” things like “climate change,” across many different agencies, colluding to advance the progressive agenda. Crews said the “whole of government“ approach the Biden administration laid down is documented in the “Unified Agenda” due last fall and just released.

Kudlow believes the right should use the West Virginia SCOTUS decision as a tool to put federal agencies back within their delineated purposes. The left has utilized a majority in the high court for decades to win legal battles to get the effect of laws they couldn’t get through Congress. Now, it’s time for the right to halt and reverse the big government creep that has moved America in far left, socialist political directions.

These policies and actions must be recognized as the “anti-growth” approach they are and it may take a lot of lawsuits to stop them, Kudlow said.

CEI’s founder Fred Smith puts it this way: the Constitution isn’t perfect but it’s much better than what we have now.

Rep. French Hill (R-AR) explained to Kudlow how the system has been working under Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrat House rules. Last year both Democrat and Republican members of House and Senate committees had been working on an infrastructure bill, holding hearings, hammering out details, operating the committee system as “regular order” is supposed to function. Instead, Pelosi allowed a Senate bill to “parachute” in -- no amendments allowed -- and that was the Infrastructure bill that got voted on and passed. And actual infrastructure projects were a minor part of the bill.

The election of California’s McCarthy as House Speaker has got to have some advantage to California’s cattlemen. We have heard from them in the past that there were lines of communication with McCarthy that could be helpful in this Congress.

As a side effect, leaving little room for spending discussions this fiscal year means Republicans can concentrate much more on investigations into skullduggery than they might otherwise have had time for. The very fact that Rep. Jim Jordan refused to throw his hat into the ring for speaker underscores his dedication as new House Judiciary chairman to officially uncover the illegal and unethical behavior of legislators, government officials and the media.

On Monday night, the House passed the new rules on a 220-213 nearly party line vote.

In a radio interview (Dan Bongino), Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a key member of the 20 who held out for new provisions in House rules, commented how many people came up to him and another House member (Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)) at lunch this weekend to express their thanks.

The no confidence, single member motion to vacate the chair had actually been in effect for years before Rep. Nancy Pelosi changed it. The Holman Rule, which was reinstated, not only allows for amendments to decrease the salary of specific government employees, it also allows for decreasing funding for certain programs to $1.

The new rules direct the CBO to examine the inflationary impact of new legislation, as well as budgetary impact.

The Hill reported that “PAYGO,” the “pay-as-you-go” rule that requires legislation that would increase mandatory spending to be offset with revenue increases (new taxes), will be replaced with “CUTGO,” a “cut-as-you-go” variation first instituted by Republicans in 2011 that requires increases to be offset with equal or greater mandatory spending decreases. Both parties have frequently waived the rule to pass legislation.

Of course, the left is not happy with the new rules and Republican intentions. One provision would place three Freedom Caucus members on the House Rules Committee. There will be nine Republicans on the 13-member committee that determines what bills get to the floor and how they can be amended. Proxy voting will be ended.

The first bill the new House passed (221-210) was to defund the extra IRS funding aimed at hiring 87,000 new agents. Unfortunately, the Senate has said it will ignore the bill but part of the Republican strategy this year will be to get positions on record. The Democrats decried the lost revenue but those projected enforcement boosts never yield as much money as lawmakers expect. White House said cutting IRS additional funding would only help big corporations dodge taxes and aid “tax cheats.”

The left is also not happy with a provision streamlining the process to transfer ownership of federal lands to states or localities.

In other news, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mi.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has announced she will not run for re-election in 2024. Stabenow, who has not been particularly friendly to production animal agriculture and advocated for specialty crops, will oversee the new Farm Bill in her last year in office.

Should you wish to thank certain House members -- or chastise others, contact info is here:

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