House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is escalating and doubling down on several pledges about how he would run the lower chamber next year as he tries to beat back opposition from a handful of House Republicans who threaten to derail his Speakership bid.
Over the weekend, he warned that any delay in Republicans taking the gavel would put GOP priorities and his plans for his conference on hold.
“Right now, it’s actually delaying our ability to govern as we go,” McCarthy, who won the House GOP nomination for Speaker, said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” “So I’m hopeful that everybody comes together, finds a way to govern together. This is what the American people want. Otherwise, we will be squandering this majority.”
Five House Republicans — Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Bob Good (Va.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.) and Ralph Norman (S.C.) — have said or strongly indicated that they will not vote for McCarty for Speaker on Jan. 3, when he needs support from a majority of those voting for a Speaker candidate. With Republicans heading toward a narrow majority of 222 seats to Democrats’ 212 in January, the opposition threatens to keep him from the post.
McCarthy’s argument did not land with his fiercest critics, whose issues with McCarthy range from not committing to pass a slashed federal budget to calling on him to do more to empower rank-and-file members.
“‘Squandering this majority’ would be allowing a guy that the conservative movement has lambasted for years to take the reins as House Speaker,” Biggs responded in a tweet. “Leaders who lead from behind aren’t leaders.”
Here are six pledges McCarthy has made in a bid to win the Speakership:
Try to roll back IRS funding boost
The first bill from House Republicans, McCarthy announced in September, would be to “repeal 87,000 IRS agents” — a reference to an $80 billion funding boost to the IRS included in Democrats’ tax, climate and health care package signed into law earlier this year.
A 2021 Treasury Department estimate said the IRS could hire nearly 87,000 employees over a decade with the new funding, a figure that includes support staff, auditors and replacements for those who leave the agency. Republicans have repeatedly falsely said that all the 87,000 IRS hires would be “agents” and sought to use the threat to fire up midterm voters.
Such a bill would likely be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Remove certain Democrats from committee assignments
McCarthy says he will remove Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The move is in part a response to GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) being removed from their committee posts last year over social media posts and interactions involving violence against other members. It is also a response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vetoing two of McCarthy’s picks for the Jan. 6 committee, after which McCarthy pulled his other three selections.
The GOP leader accused Schiff, the current chair of the House Intelligence Committee, of lying to the public about investigations into former President Trump. Schiff fired back, saying that McCarthy will “misrepresent my record” and will do “whatever he needs to do to get the votes of the QAnon caucus within his conference.”
Swalwell, McCarthy said, should not sit on the House Intelligence Committee due to his relationship with an alleged Chinese spy who reportedly helped fundraise for his 2014 campaign and helped place an intern in his office. Swalwell’s office has said he provided information about the individual to the FBI.
And McCarthy has accused Omar of making antisemitic comments. Omar said in a statement that McCarthy’s threat is a “continuation of a sustained campaign against Muslim and African voices.”
Removing a member from a standing committee requires a vote of the full House.
Investigate Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Hard-line House conservatives are hungry for impeachments of Biden administration officials, and Mayorkas, whom they blame for the crisis at the southern border, is at the top of their list. But McCarthy has not explicitly promised to do so, saying that Republicans will not use impeachment for “political purposes.”
Instead, on a border trip just before Thanksgiving, McCarthy called on Mayorkas to resign or face House GOP investigations and a potential impeachment inquiry — his strongest comments on the topic to date.
That escalation, though, has not satisfied McCarthy’s opponents.
“He had plenty of time to support impeachment articles against Mayorkas and was radio silent,” Biggs said in a tweet.
Create a House Select Committee on China
McCarthy has pledged to create a House Select Committee on China, an effort that Republicans hope can produce meaningful bipartisan agreement on both economic and military matters.
McCarthy tried to work with Democrats to create a China select committee in 2020. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Republicans say, pulled Democrats out of the plan around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Washington Post reported at the time that Democrats had concerns about the China issue being too politicized.
Dealings with China are thought to be one of the few areas where the two parties can come to some agreement in the next Congress.
End proxy voting
The pandemic-era practice of allowing House members to designate another member to vote by proxy for them will come to an end, McCarthy has said, charging that it “allows Members of Congress to get paid without ever needing to show up for work.”
Members of both parties have utilized proxy voting — which requires a letter saying the members is unable to attend in person “due to the ongoing public health emergency” — in ways that appeared to be for convenience rather than health reasons.
McCarthy took a lawsuit challenging proxy voting up to the Supreme Court, but the court in January declined to hear the case.
Pass culture war–related bills
McCarthy and House Republicans have promised to advance the “Parents Bill of Rights,” a bill crafted last year in response to frustrations about “woke” curriculum and COVID-19–related school closures that spilled over into heated school board meetings.
The bill would require school districts to post curriculum publicly, have teachers offer two in-person meetings with parents a year, have parents give consent before any medical exam at school and provide notice of any violence at school.
McCarthy has also said he would bring up a bill to define sex “solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth” for purposes of Title IX in athletics, taking aim at transgender athletes.
Like a bill to repeal the IRS funding boost, though, it is unlikely it would be taken up in the Senate.