House Republicans Pass First Wave of Rule Changes with New Majority

The House of Representatives Republican Conference swiftly moved forward with its first round of rule changes for when the party takes control of the House in the new year.

GOP members are saving more controversial proposals in rule changes for after the Thanksgiving holiday but voted to change how the Speaker of the House can be removed from power. The new rule, proposed by Republican Representative Mike Turner of Ohio, is intended to stop the Democratic minority from controlling who gets to be Speaker.

Turner’s amendment would require the conference majority to back the motion to vacate the chair. It states, “It is the position of the Republican Conference that the privilege under House Rule IX Clause 2 (a)(3) should only be available with the agreement of the Republican Conference not to allow Democrats to choose the Speaker.” Current House rules only permit the leader of the majority to introduce a motion to depose the Speaker. 

“We just made it, so you have to have the majority of the conference to vacate the chair. Well, that’s good because it give you stability,” said Republican Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska. “You don’t have a gun to the speaker’s head on every state.”

“The conference voted for it, so isn’t that what we’re about? 50% plus one, majority rules — I think we’re good,” added Representative Randy Weber, a Republican from Texas.

In an upcoming session, Republicans will vote to require a GOP conference majority to approve sign-off legislation before it can move onto the floor of the House. The conference is also expected to vote on an amendment to allow any member to introduce motions to remove the Speaker. 

“The body has shown great restraint and member discretion in using that privilege, but it’s always been there,” Republican Representative Clay Higgins of Louisiana said. Higgins also said the privilege was lost with California Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. 

“That’s how it’s been forever: Any member could bring forward that motion, and it will trigger a vote on it to determine competence.”

The conference also voted to add more regional representatives to the committee that decides assignments, the Steering Committee. When a new Congress is sworn in in January, the Republican party will hold a narrow majority.

No red wave: GOP ekes out wins

Although the expected red wave predicted didn’t happen, the GOP eked out wins of enough contested seats to gain control of Congress. Some races have still not been called over a week after Election Day. Although Republicans won at least 218 seats and will control the chamber, leaders in the GOP are facing blowback for not delivering in the midterms in favorable conditions for the party. 

The Republicans’ single-digit margin brings an era of divided Washington government. Democrats did better than expected in the midterms and held control of the Senate. A GOP-controlled House will clash on most issues with a Democratic Senate in 2023, with intense fights over issues such as funding the government.