Five bills that Republicans must engage on to change the status quo

As seen in The Hill.

House Republicans’ Commitment to America and the House rules package negotiated between Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) will set the framework for how the GOP will conduct business in the 118th Congress. Taxpayers can expect a more deliberate and accountable Congress that will actually debate and vote on key federal programs, rather than being forced to vote on massive omnibus bills with no debate or accountability. It’s a new day in the People’s House and all Americans should be proud of that. Now the real work begins. 

Congress will consider a series of “must-pass” bills. These are massive pieces of legislation that have to be considered in 2023 before their authorizations expire. These are priorities for both chambers and the Biden administration. We are going to see a lot of debate around critical issues including border security and immigration, energy and the environment, and oversight of President Biden and his administration. 

Debt Limit 

Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that the federal government is going to use “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the federal government’s debt obligations. 

In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act which set sequestration in motion and capped federal spending over 10 years. Since then, Republicans and Democrats have voted numerous times to bust the budget caps to increase defense and non-defense spending. The implementation of this bill was a disaster and Congress must learn from this detrimental mistake. Republicans have long advocated for cutting federal programs, capping spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, and balancing the budget. Few have actually gone through with this promise when it comes to votes on the House floor. While addressing Social Security and Medicare reform is an imperative for all Americans, it will be difficult to make this happen with a divided Congress and President Biden in the White House. 

Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2024 

Last December, Congress passed an unforgivable $1.7 trillion spending bill with no debate or questions asked. The McCarthy-HFC rules package gives taxpayers the certainty that there will be regular order in the appropriations process. Representatives will vote on 12 separate appropriations bills under a process that allows for each representative to file, debate, and vote on their amendments. This is where we will see Republicans and Democrats go on record with their support or opposition to maintaining the status quo. Taking us to Fiscal Year 2022 spending levels is a step in the right direction; however, part of this negotiation must include ways to reform failing federal programs. 

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024

Our country needs a strong and capable fighting force. The Constitution authorizes Congress to support and maintain a military. The unfortunate reality is that politicians have abused this power and are now funding a nearly $900 billion bureaucracy that cannot pass an audit to save its life. Before we know it, the Armed Services Committees will be authorizing a $1 trillion defense budget. The military is not above reproach. Taking the “woke” out of the Pentagon and threatening spending reductions for every failed audit must be a priority for the incoming House majority. As Adm. Michael Mullen put it in 2010, the national debt is the top national security threat facing America. This is still true today, and ensuring that defense spending is spent appropriately is key to maintaining proper military readiness. 

Farm Bill

The farm bill represents the worst of Congress. We subsidize our food supply, particularly ethanol, much of which has contributed to skyrocketing rates of obesity which strains our failed health care system. Additionally, the farm bill authorizes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. This program is in need of drastic reforms, including keeping beneficiaries from buying foods that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle, tightening work requirements, and, more importantly, finding ways to get folks off the government dole and onto the path to self-sufficiency. 

FISA Section 702 Reauthorization 

Our civil liberties have been eroded over recent decades. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has been abused by previous administrations, most recently illustrated by the Russia collusion scandal that plagued much of the previous administration. As Republicans take their fight to the deep state, FISA reform should be no exception. Lawmakers need to work to ensure that any surveillance on American citizens is lawfully conducted pursuant to statute and the Constitution. The internet of things has made it easier for the deep state to spy on Americans, from data purchases to private records held by third parties. Congress must ensure that Americans’ privacy is protected across the board in any reauthorization legislation. 

Republicans have an opportunity to move the needle under a divided Congress and Democrat White House. Now is the time to make these issues mainstream and level with the American people on what is feasible and what is not. Conservatives can win in this Congress; they demonstrated as much during the Speaker debate and can do the same with the new Congress and the Biden administration. 

For press inquiries, contact Peter Vicenzi,