The week of chaos, confusion, and (literal) infighting that preceded Kevin McCarthy’s election as speaker was a pretty strong indication that the Republican Party’s control of the House of Representatives was going to be a shitshow.
They’ve been in control for a week now. Yes, it’s been a shitshow, but the past few days have also served as a reminder that along with all of the antics comes a laser-like focus on derailing the American government.
Republicans have hit the ground running since McCarthy belatedly took up the gavel last Friday. Members have proposed a rash of theatrical legislation and openly thirsted for revenge against their political opponents. McCarthy has elevated far-right election deniers to key positions, with formerly fringe conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Greene wielding an overlarge influence over the party’s direction. There’s still plenty of discord, as well, with some members openly frustrated about the previous week’s chaos and the direction of the party, and others disagreeing about what to do about George Santos, the pariah from New York whose backstory was almost entirely fabricated.
One thing that’s been made abundantly clear is that actual governing in service of the welfare of the American people is not a priority. “We have the gavel,” Greene recently told Charlie Kirk. “I’m ready for investigations to start, I’m ready for subpoenas.”
Here’s a rundown of the past week of insanity. It’s going to be a long two years.
Election deniers are now running the show
In one of his first big committee chairmanship appointments, McCarthy snubbed Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who’d wanted to head the Armed Services Committee. Instead he went with Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who denied the results of the 2020 election.
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, denied the election as well. So did Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), new head of the Budget Committee, Jason Smith (R-Mo.), new head of the Ways and Means Committee, and a handful of other Republicans McCarthy had no problem elevating. He’s also promised election denier, conspiracy theorist, and open bigot Marjorie Taylor Greene will be able to sit on committees after the House voted to strip her of the privilege in 2021.
McCarthy has also, just so you know, appointed twice as many guys named “Mike” to committee chairmanships than he has women.
They want to make paying taxes even more excruciating
The first bill the new House GOP passed stripped the Internal Revenue Service of tens of billions of dollars of funding. The bill won’t take effect as Democrats control the Senate and White House, but the fact that it passed the House is plenty concerning.
The move is ostensibly predicated on the idea that people don’t like paying taxes, and so defunding the IRS is good. “Taxation is theft,” Rep. Anna Paulian Luna (R-Fla.) said earlier this week in defending the bill, describing the 87,000 new IRS workers the Inflation Reduction Act funded as “weaponized agents.”
They’re not, though. They’re employees who will help process tax returns and handle customer service, and the IRS is in dire need of help. The National Taxpayer Advocate sent its annual report to Congress on Wednesday, noting that the chronically underfunded service has a backlog of millions of tax returns and is struggling to field phone calls from Americans who need help. The only people who stand to benefit from the GOP’s bill to defund the IRS are wealthy Americans looking to cheat their taxes. It’s cause for celebration for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“Promises made, promises kept,” he said as he banged the gavel after the bill passed.
They’re investigating President Biden and his family
Republicans have long been frothing at the mouth to investigate the Bidens, and they’re not wasting any time now that they have the power to do so. Newly minted Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) on Wednesday sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking for information on Biden and his family, noting that the committee is looking into their “foreign business practices and international influence peddling schemes.”
The thirst to go after the Bidens is party-wide. “The Biden family highly concerns me,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) tweeted on Monday. “Joe, Hunter, and even ‘Dr.’ Jill. They are compromised and must be investigated.”
Investigate? Hell, impeach them!
The investigations are certainly coming, as Greene said, but what the GOP really wants is eye-for-an-eye revenge, which means impeaching Biden like Democrats impeached Trump. Greene on Monday told Tucker Carlson that Biden should be kicked out of office, and that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorkas should be impeached, as well. Why? Because they haven’t totally stopped the drug trade and Americans are still dying of fentanyl.
Greene added later in the week that both Biden and Garland should also be impeached over the classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president that were found at Biden’s office in a think tank. Never mind that the documents were found by Biden’s lawyers and that Biden, unlike Trump, has been fully cooperating in turning the documents over to authorities.
It’s not just Greene, either. McCarthy has floated impeaching Mayorkas, too, and Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) filed articles of impeachment against him on Tuesday. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if the GOP mounts a serious push to impeach Garland and possibly even Biden next. It’s not about justice. It’s about Republicans prioritizing inflicting as much pain as possible on their political opponents over the welfare of the nation.
(Investigate them too, though)
The past week has made apparent that the GOP’s primary focus — perhaps its only focus, to be honest — will be carrying goose-chase investigations into their political enemies. Biden is the top target, but the party of law and order is also going after federal law enforcement. The House voted on Tuesday to create a “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” to investigate what they call Biden’s “weaponization” of the FBI to go after Trump, who pretty clearly seems to have committed a variety of federal crimes.
It’s going to be a mess, as the Justice Department isn’t going to want to open the dossiers of and potentially compromise ongoing investigation to satisfy the GOP’s itch for revenge. “This will be a separation of powers hornets’ nest,” former House General Counsel Stan Brand told Politico. “In order to insulate the process from taint, [DOJ] will have to draw clearer ‘lines in the sand’ over what they will provide.”
Oh, look, Republicans suddenly care about the national debt again
Republicans have been whining about the debt all week despite hardly mentioning it when President Trump was in office, or in the run-up to last year’s midterms. Now that they’re in power, however, they can use it to rationalize cutting social services and anything else that doesn’t exclusively benefit rich people. “It’s the domestic spending we’re going to go after,” House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said on Monday.
The United States is about to hit the ceiling of its borrowing power, and Congress is going to have to vote to raise that ceiling in the coming months. House Republicans have made clear they’re not going to do so without cuts like the ones Republicans like Emmer are presaging.
“If we’re about to max out the credit card, before we hit that limit, shouldn’t we have an honest conversation about living within our means,” added Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). There is no credit card company setting America’s debt limit, though. America itself is setting it, and the GOP’s sudden concern over it has nothing to do with being responsible. Scalise didn’t rule out the possibility that the House might decide to just not raise the limit, which would trigger a default, which would trigger a government shutdown and financial catastrophe.
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said a default could be possible, too. “We’ve got to be forced either [to enact] spending cuts, or not be willing to raise the debt limit,” he said on Monday. “We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”
They want to cut military spending because of “woke”
Republicans are so obsessed with hating gay people that they’re calling for cuts to military spending. “Everything has to be on the table when you’ve got a 30-some-odd debt,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in response to Larry Kudlow saying there’s a lot of “woke” in the military budget.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) agreed. “We are going to carve out woke policies out of the military. We are going to look out the out-of-whack ratio of generals,” he said, adding, of course, that “we’ve got to get spending out of control” and that “the entitlements program” is the main thing that needs to be cut.
Speaking of things Republicans don’t typically want to defund that they’ve called to defund in the past week, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said he wants to gut the DHS. “We’re going to have to stop funding a Department of Homeland Security that refuses to secure the border of the president of the United States, and we’re going to do that this year.”
We have a feeling eliminating Customs and Border Protection isn’t going to go very far in securing the border.
Yes, they’re still trying to outlaw abortion despite what happened in the midterms
Republicans were expecting a red wave in the 2022 midterms, but wound up barely wresting control of the House. Many blamed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade for the disappointing performance, and the fact that several red states voted in favor of securing reproductive rights seems to support the theory.
Nevertheless, Republicans can’t help themselves.
The House on Wednesday passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which many have said threatens abortion access because of how it leaves health care providers vulnerable to prosecution. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) even introduced a resolution to condemn the activist response to the Supreme Court axing Roe.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) isn’t a fan, either. “What this bill is about today is a march toward criminalizing abortion care, a nationwide ban,” he said on the House floor.
George Santos is strapped to the roof of the clown car
George Santos won the race for New York’s 3rd District by lying about nearly every key point of his background. He even told Nassau County GOP Chair Joseph Cairo that he was a “star” volleyball player at Baruch College, which he’s already admitted he never even attended. Cairo recounted the lie on Wednesday while announcing that the Nassau County GOP was calling for Santos to resign. The New York state GOP soon followed. Santos, however, has maintained that he’s sticking around. “I will not,” he told a throng of reporters when asked if he will step down.
Santos has been hounded by reporters all week. He didn’t comment again on Thursday when asked why he’s lied to everyone about practically everything.
The fact that Santos is an unrepentant con man who duped his district into voting for him is certainly grounds for expulsion, or at least some sort of discipline. Republicans are hamstringing the Office of Congressional Ethics, though, and McCarthy doesn’t seem to care anyway. Santos, after all, is a reliable vote. “In America today, you’re innocent until proven guilty,” he told reporters on Wednesday.