With the Republican Party now officially set to take control of the House of Representatives come January, we are beginning to realize that we’re only partway through this contentious ascension.
That’s because there is still a great deal of decision-making to be done regarding GOP leadership at a time in which the party is struggling to find a well-congealed identity. This intra-party fracas is now manifesting itself in the race for House leadership, and the far-right corners of the party are demanding their due.
The Freedom Caucus is pushing for the Republican leader to hand more power to his caucus, demanding stronger roles for House committee chairs in exchange for backing Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for speaker.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus, which boasts more than 40 members, is proposing a wide array of changes to House rules ahead of a floor vote in January on McCarthy’s speakership bid. The conservative lawmakers want to gut the speaker’s ability to appoint committee chairmen, instead allowing a panel’s individual members to vote on the position.
Their statements were unmistakable.
“Each member of Congress has earned and deserves equal participation in the legislative process,” said Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Montana Republican.
Their concerns appeared valid.
At the moment, Republican committee chairmen and members are chosen by the internal steering committee. The panel is made up of leadership allies, with individual members also allowed to run for seats representing regions of the country.
Leadership allies say the process is open and fair and ensures no single person has total control. Critics say that McCarthy and other top Republicans dominate the panel, rewarding supporters and punishing members likely to buck leadership.
As proof, members of the Freedom Caucus cite that several of their members have been left off of committees that would appear to be a natural fit.
“Committees should have people on them that have experience in that field,” said Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-Tenn. “That’s just common sense to me.”
The news comes during a delicate time for the GOP, with many of the “old guard” Republicans already beginning to bristle at the early 2024 announcement from Donald Trump, setting up a showdown between MAGA and the status quo.