Although the 2022 midterm elections were weeks ago, the makeup of the U.S. House is still not fully set. Republicans have won at least 220 seats — enough to gain control of the chamber — while Democrats have won 213. Two races have yet to be called, but some politicos think the final makeup will be 222-213.
Whatever it is in the end, the extremely small margin for the GOP will mean various coalitions and caucuses and cliques will have expanded power to make their voices heard — and to kill bills they don’t like. Already, there is much jockeying among the groups.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus has made numerous moves to be a central power broker among the GOP. The caucus, made up of 30-40 Republicans, earlier this week sent potential new members a 55-page “Road Map” for the party, with a slew of proposed rule changes, many of which sought to reduce the power of party leaders.
But Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who appears set to take over as Speaker of the House, is not a caucus member and apparently not much of a fan. Last week, the House Republican leadership shot down six of the eight rule changes that have been proposed.
“The amendments that failed included a requirement that spending bills must pass before the fiscal year officially begins on Oct. 1,” Just The News reported. “If not, other legislation would not be able to be considered on the floor. An amendment that would ensure all members of the Republican Conference are able to participate in conference meetings was rejected.”
Another rule that didn’t pass muster with House GOP leadership was an amendment that would have allowed committee members to elect their own chairmen rather than leadership appointing them.
Other cliques are also looking for their share of the pie. One, known as the Problem Solvers’ Caucus, pledges to be a centrist band that can help the GOP win battles in the House but will look for bipartisan support from Democrats.
“Last week, the co-leaders of the Problem Solvers’ caucus, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), met for dinner to talk about changes that could unify and empower the 50 or so members of their group,” Politico reported. “One option on the table: only endorsing bills that have both Republican and Democratic co-sponsors when introduced.”
“We just want to make the group more accountable … I mean, the whole point of our group is to stick together on the floor when we endorse bills,” Fitzpatrick told the liberal political site.
Already, the Problem Solvers are turning heads, with members of the Freedom Caucus and even Senate Democrats looking to make friends.
Then there’s the Main Street Caucus, which touts itself on Twitter as “the 2nd largest Caucus of Republicans in the House,” adding that its top priorities are “implementing pro-growth policies for small business owners, fostering economic and individual prosperity [and] delivering results for the American people.”
“It’s time we flex our muscles,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), co-leader of the Main Street Caucus, said, according to Newsmax.
McCarthy will likely need support from the groups to be effective — and he knows it.
“Kevin’s not stupid,” said Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), who leads another centrist caucus, the Republican Governance Group. “He’s trying to add to his numbers, not destroy his base. And so I count on his political acumen to know what’s acceptable to the rank and file inside the conference.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.