Conservatives’ Defeat of D.C. Status Quo Is a Win for All Americans

As seen in Newsweek.

To many, the week-long process of electing a speaker of the House seemed frustrating and pointless, revealing divisions within the House Republican Conference. However, the drawn-out ordeal showcased the leverage conservative Republicans will have in the 118th Congress. They revealed their desire to end the status quo in Washington, beginning with altering the broken process and procedures by which the lower chamber of Congress is run.

Late last week, GOP leadership and conservatives agreed to make changes, and now the House has passed the rules package that the “Group of 20” bargained for. This represents a generational change in the way the House will function—not for conservatives’ political advantage, but for the benefit of the American people.

Call it chaos if you want, but last week seemed to have significantly altered the power dynamic in Washington. This was not a coronation of the next speaker, but an in-depth debate over how the House should be governed. And as the speaker loses power, rank-and-file representatives and the American people gain influence in the legislative process.

Americans’ trust in our institutions is at an all-time low, and the new changes to the House’s legislative process are a step in the right direction toward regaining that trust, no matter which side of the aisle they lean.

Immediately following the November 8 election, Kevin McCarthy refused to support rules change requests from the Freedom Caucus. Once he realized that he would not receive enough votes to win the speakership, McCarthy began to compromise on their common-sense requests. Throughout the process, conservatives were successful in getting concessions from Kevin McCarthy and members of the Republican Conference.

These include, among other things, fully restoring the “motion to vacate the chair,” which serves as a check on the speaker, and allowing representatives to amend major bills on the House floor under an open rule. In recent years, this long-standing practice was stifled by the Rules Committee, which is effectively controlled by party leadership. Speakers Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi were both responsible for the degradation in the House process.

Strong concessions include a mandate that legislation be made available to members at least 72 hours before a vote. Under Speaker Pelosi’s rule, the House passed massive spending bills thousands of pages in length and congressional offices would not receive the bills’ text until hours before a vote. It was impossible for anyone to fully read and comprehend what taxpayer dollars would be funding.

In addition to the 72-hour rule, each piece of legislation moving forward will address only a single subject. Legislation often comes packed with provisions that have nothing to do with the title of the bill or the root action the bill would enact, leaving room for frivolous spending that has contributed to the $31 trillion national debt.

Above all, the House’s ability to rein in out-of-control government spending must inform all of the GOP majority’s legislative decisions. Rep. Ralph Norman has the right idea: “restoring fiscal sanity to Congress is my top priority. It’s crucial for the next Republican Speaker to leverage every tool at his disposal to cut spending.”

If there is one thing Republicans can do with a divided government, it is tightening the purse strings. They can ensure that American tax dollars are not being spent unwisely, and that accountability and transparency will be guiding principles.

It should come as no surprise that legacy media pundits and the D.C. establishment were the most vocal opponents of any semblance of debate regarding the speakership. After all, it was under the status quo of top-down party leadership control that lobbyists and special interests thrived.

Earlier this week, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) expressed what many Americans think: “Washington is broken,” he said. “I want the tools or I want the leadership to stop the swamp from running over the average American every single day.” We should be grateful that enough Republicans stood up to party leadership and demanded change.

For press inquiries, contact Peter Vicenzi, PVicenzi@FreedomWorks.org.

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