What Congress accomplished with McCarthy as speaker of the House

Most House Republicans, even some of the most conservative, supported Kevin McCarthy and praised his leadership on the House floor in the hours before his ouster.

“As the only member who’s serving here who took every chance to vote against Speaker Boehner, and to vote against Speaker Ryan, I can tell you that this chamber has been run better, more conservatively, and more transparently, under Mr. McCarthy than any other speaker that I have served under,” said hardline conservative Rep. Thomas Massie from the House floor before Tuesday’s vote on the motion to vacate.

Here is what McCarthy did — and didn’t — accomplish in his mere nine months as speaker.

Avoided a government shutdown

Congress was able to avoid shutting down the government after McCarthy put a 47-day funding resolution on the floor Saturday, hours before funding for the government would expire. It won the support of every Democrat but one, and 90 Republicans voted against it. The bill was overwhelmingly passed by the Senate and signed by President Biden.

The temporary spending authority will run out in mid-November, and the House will need a new speaker in place in order to address the next looming shutdown crisis.

Raised the debt ceiling

Republicans — led in part by McCarthy’s temporary successor, Rep. Patrick McHenry — brokered a debt ceiling agreement with Democrats this summer.

The final agreement, signed by President Biden on June 3, suspends the debt limit until Jan. 1, 2025, after the next presidential election. Without a deal, the economic consequences could have been catastrophic.

Required director of national intelligence to declassify information relating to the origin of COVID-19

Under McCarthy, the House voted to require the director of national intelligence to declassify information related to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The House approved the measure by unanimous consent, the Senate approved it, and President Biden signed it.

House Republicans also established the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, chaired by Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a doctor.

The committee aimed to get to the bottom of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the federal response to the outbreak.

Intelligence agencies are divided on whether the pandemic began because of natural transmission or a lab accident. Although the president in March signed the legislation requiring “any and all of” the findings about COVID’s origins to be declassified within 90 days, the director of national intelligence has so far released only a 10-page report that says the intelligence community has found no evidence of a “biosafety incident” or pre-pandemic presence of the virus in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

According to a coronavirus subcommittee, an unidentified, senior CIA whistleblower claimed the CIA offered hush money to cover up findings that the pandemic likely originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Passed by the House and stalled or dead in the SenateH.R. 1, the House energy bill

The House in March passed H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, with support from all but one Republican and four Democrats. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania was the only GOP lawmaker to oppose the measure.

The legislation aims to boost domestic energy production, reform the permitting process for certain projects, such as natural gas pipelines, and unwind several of the Biden administration’s energy policies.

While Republican leaders cheered the bill’s passage, it’s dead in the Senate, and the White House said President Biden would veto the measure.

Spending bills

Congress has so far failed to enact any of the appropriations bills that fund the government, although this is not unusual. It has only managed to pass all 12 spending bills on time in four years, and that last occurred in 1997.

In most years, Congress passes some of the individual appropriations measures before the end of the fiscal year in September and pushes through a short-term continuing resolution to keep government running while lawmakers wrap the rest into one big “omnibus” package for the next fiscal year.

This year, none of the 12 bills were passed before the end of September, threatening to shut the government down over the weekend when funding dried up. McCarthy’s continuing resolution now gives lawmakers until mid-November to finish their appropriations work, but it cost him his speakership.

By the end of last week, the House had passed four appropriations bills, but they contain cuts that Democrats and the Biden administration are sure to reject, as well social policy riders that Democrats on the committee said were “irrelevant” and “harmful.”

Military construction and veterans affairs

The military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill passed the House in July. While it’s $800 million above what President Biden requested, the bill cuts what the bill summary says is “wasteful spending,” banning the use of funds “to promote or advance critical race theory”  or to implement or enforce any of Mr. Biden’s executive orders on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Defense, State Department and Foreign Operations and Homeland Security

These three appropriations bills passed in late September. Republicans cut $20 billion from the defense bill, much of it by defunding “this Administration’s divisive social agenda,” according to the bill summary.

The House defense appropriations bill bans funding for gender-affirming medical procedures, and it also removes funding for travel expenses for abortion services. And it makes cuts to the Pentagon’s civilian personnel and climate-related programs

The bill description also contains a line stating that security clearances are to be denied “for any individual listed as a signatory in the statement titled ‘Public Statement on the Hunter Biden Emails’ dated October 19, 2020.” This is a reference to a statement made by 51 former top intelligence officials who stated that the release of alleged emails from what was purportedly data from Hunter Biden’s laptop “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

InvestigationsBiden impeachment inquiry

Amid ongoing investigations by three GOP-led committees into Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s son, and his overseas business dealings, McCarthy announced last month the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into the president.

McCarthy alleged members of Mr. Biden’s family made millions of dollars from foreign firms and argued that the allegations show corruption on the part of the president and his family members. Despite the accusations, House Republicans have yet to uncover direct evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden.

The House Oversight Committee held the first hearing of its impeachment inquiry last month, though it may not have done much to bolster Republicans’ claims that Mr. Biden committed high crimes and misdemeanors that warrant his removal. One of the GOP’s witnesses, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, testified that he did not believe the “current evidence” would support articles of impeachment.

But House Republicans were investigating the Bidens long before an impeachment inquiry began. In particular, they have been probing the business dealings of Hunter Biden, trying to connect any actions or alleged actions of the president’s son to the president himself. Multiple committees, including the House Judiciary Committee and House Committee on Oversight and Reform, have been investigating the Bidens, issuing subpoenas and holding hearings.

Alleged weaponization of Justice Department

One of the first measures passed by Republicans in January was a resolution establishing a select subcommittee “on the weaponization of the federal government.”

The panel investigates federal investigators, and its establishment stemmed from criticism by Republicans of the Justice Department’s investigations involving former President Donald Trump, which include the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election,Trump’s handling of sensitive government documents recovered from his South Florida property, Mar-a-Lago, and the August 2022 court-authorized search executed by the FBI at the property.

The committee is led by Rep. Jim Jordan and composed of 21 members, 12 Republicans and nine Democrats. It’s held five hearings so far focusing on alleged politicization of the FBI and its treatment of whistleblowers, as well as accusations of censorship by Twitter, now known as X, and other social media companies.

UAP hearing

In July, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a bipartisan effort to add an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that would require agencies to hand over records dealing with Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), also referred to as UFOs.

Following this decision, McCarthy said in July that he’d “love to see what other facts and information see what we have. I’m very supportive of letting the American public see what we have.”

A week later, the House Oversight Committee’s national security subcommittee then held a public hearing with three former military officers about their alleged encounters with UAPs. The blockbuster hearing inspired a bipartisan group of lawmakers to ask McCarthy to create a select committee to investigate UAPs.

Bipartisan China select committee

McCarthy had overwhelming bipartisan support in establishing the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party in January. The House voted 365-65 in favor of creating the committee, with 146 Democrats joining all Republicans.

The committee has been a rare show of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, highlighting threats Republicans and Democrats believe are posed by China’s government.

“You have my word and my commitment, this is not a partisan committee,” McCarthy said on the House floor in January.

Though committee members haven’t agreed on all aspects of U.S. policy toward China, they have been able to work together.

Author Michael Lewis on the rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried

U.S. cracks down on China-based fentanyl trafficking

How could the Kaiser Permanente strike affect hospital care?

Leave a Comment