Conservatives will have more of a voice in House floor procedure than ever now under House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
McCarthy said this week that Republican members will “work to shift power back to the American people” in a statement announcing assignments for the House Intelligence, Rules, and China competitiveness committees.
The House Rules Committee is a highly influential committee that decides if and when legislation receives floor votes, how the House votes on the bill, and if lawmakers can attach amendments to the bill on the House floor.
Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Chip Roy (R-TX), and Ralph Norman (R-SC), three stalwart House conservatives, received assignments to provide more conservative voices on the Rules Committee. Historically, allies of House leadership typically received assignments to the Rules Committee. Now, Norman and Roy, who initially opposed McCarthy’s bid for speaker, have been assigned to the committee.
Roy and Massie have also been assigned to the Judiciary subcommittee investigating the “Weaponization of the Federal Government.”
The three conservatives’ appointment to the Rules Committee drives a stark contrast to prior speakers. Former John Boehner (R-OH) was infamous for booting conservatives off committees should they cross him. Many lawmakers were also “loath” to frustrate former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
McCarthy’s decision to empower conservatives through their placement to the Rules Committee comes from necessity, as Republicans currently have a razor-thin majority.
“Five of them can easily stop the rule going through. So my take to them is, ‘I want you in here. Your goal is you all work together,’” McCarthy explained to Punchbowl News. “When this comes out of Rules, you’ve got the microcosm of the conference. There should be no problem on the floor there.”
However, for Massie, he believes his role is not to tank legislation, but to serve as the “conscience” of the committee.
“I don’t intend to ever use my position on there to hold somebody hostage or to hold legislation hostage,” he remarked.
Massie said received guarantees from McCarthy and Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) that the committee would not use a rules resolution about the Farm Bill to de-privilege a War Powers resolution or a rule that tied together two bills on gun background checks.
Further, the Kentucky libertarian-leaning Republican said that Norman, Roy, and himself could help GOP leadership with contentious votes.
“For the next two years, five or six people can take down a rule on the floor. And that’s out of 222. I think it’s a lot better to have three people, if you have three people out of three who have a problem with something, you probably have a bigger problem on the floor than five out of 200,” he explained.
Roy said that he would fight to continue making the voting process more open.
“I don’t make commitments to anybody other than my constituents. The thing is you gotta work within the process to try to make things work. Everybody knows I want things to be more open as a general rule. That doesn’t mean every bill. But we should do as we said,” he elaborated.
Given that Republicans have been in the majority for only a few weeks, lawmakers on the Rules committee appear to be jovial.
Massie, when speaking to Punchbowl News Tuesday night, said as Cole walked by, “Hey, there’s our chairman now!”
“You’re my man!” Cole said. To which Massie said, “This is the boss.”