Republicans are set to take control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3, 2023, and members of the new majority already have schemes brewing. Between their economic agenda, spurious investigations, and threatened impeachments, Republicans are planning a busy year that may yield little to benefit working Americans.
Republicans want to extend the Trump tax cuts, which mostly benefited corporations and the ultra wealthy; cut spending on Social Security and Medicare; and repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which lowered the cost of prescription drugs, made clean energy technology more affordable for families, and raised taxes on corporations.
In addition to the above agenda items, Republicans are also likely to block any attempts to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25 an hour, block bills to expand paid family and medical leave, and could push to repeal the estate tax, which would only benefit the wealthiest Americans.
Economists have made it clear that these proposed tax cuts for the rich and big corporations would not lower inflation–and could even possibly make it worse.
In advance of taking control of the House, Republicans have vowed to hold hearings on the cause of the inflation spike and to use upcoming debt ceiling negotiations to deeply cut spending to, as they claim, “help curb the United States’ record debt”—even though extending the Trump tax cuts would add to this debt.
The debt ceiling is set by Congress and determines how much the United States is able to borrow. Increasing that amount is a routine congressional task, and failing to do so would cause the country to default on its debt, which could lead to not only a national but also a global recession.
Notably, the vast majority of voters don’t want to trade economic security program cuts for a debt limit increase, according to a Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted after the midterm elections.
In theory, President Biden would be able to block most or all of the Republicans’ wish list—the White House has already said it will not cut Social Security or Medicare spending—but if GOP leaders choose to use the debt ceiling negotiations to hold the economy hostage, working-class Americans are likely to suffer one way or another.
Republicans also have a ton of investigations planned, focused on everything from the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to allegations of politicization at the Justice Department to the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Perhaps the most significant “issue” they plan to investigate, though, is into the business dealings of the president’s son, Hunter. Republicans allege that Hunter Biden has used his father’s successful political career to help himself financially: he joined the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company in 2019, and an investment firm he co-founded helped a Chinese firm buy a Congolese cobalt mine from a US company in 2016, among other endeavors. And while Republicans have made the president’s son a central talking point, neither Biden has been implicated in any wrongdoing.
And while the House Jan. 6 Committee will disband at the end of this Congress, Republicans have a few ideas for select House committees of their own. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has vowed to create a select committee to investigate China, and many other GOP members have signaled that they want to form a special panel to investigate the Biden administration’s 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was marred by a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that killed 13 service members and at least 170 Afghans.
The Morning Consult notes that the GOP’s biggest moves in this Congress will be made on the investigative front, since they’ll be able to lean on congressional authority. But among 17 potential investigations tested in their survey, none of the above issues were ranked as important in voters’ minds. Only one—fentanyl trafficking into the United States—was ranked a top priority by a majority of voters.
After President Trump was impeached twice, some of his loyal GOP allies are looking for partisan payback. In addition to threatening a government shutdown, Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene has filed multiple articles of impeachment against President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland, although McCarthy has said that he hasn’t seen anything that rises to the level of impeachment.
As with the incoming House’s planned investigations, many voters don’t rank impeachment as a top priority. The Morning Consult/Politico survey also noted that less than three in 10 voters say Congress should focus on a presidential impeachment investigation.
President Biden isn’t the only Democratic leader that Trump’s GOP allies have their sights set on. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is on their radar as well, and many GOP leaders have bashed his immigration policy.
DHS spokesperson Luis Miranda has responded to the call for Mayorkas’ impeachment saying that “many of those criticisms are coming from members of Congress who voted against the funding DHS needs to do its job, and who oppose the kind of comprehensive reform needed to create lawful pathways and update our immigration system.”
In terms of legislation, Republicans have a wide swath of partisan bills and conspiracy-fueled agenda items planned. While it’s true that any bills they pass on a partisan basis are unlikely to be signed into law by President Biden, they’ve made it clear that they plan to show the stark differences between the two parties.
McCarthy has said that as soon as they are seated on Jan. 3, House Republicans plan to vote to repeal the $80 billion in new funding for the IRS that was included in Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. Those funds are meant to help the agency staff up after a decade of jobs cuts in order to crack down on wealthy tax cheats and ramp up enforcement.
Republicans also plan to pass a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that they say would give parents “far more power over their child’s education” but teachers and education advocates say would “mislead families and undermine public education,” as well as “drive a wedge between educators and parents.”
House Republicans will have a narrow House majority in the new Congress, and McCarthy will have little room for error. Greene and other Republicans who have shown little deference to GOP leadership in the past could have an influence on what is able to ultimately pass through the House.
And on the policy front, the Morning Consult/Politico survey also found that few voters see many potential Republican legislative proposals as worthy of prioritization.
Several lawmakers have spoken out against all of these GOP plans. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy went so far as to say that if Republicans focus on Hunter Biden, for example, as opposed to health care, housing, and gun violence, they’ll be “digging their own grave.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine also told The Bulwark that Senate Democrats could pick up the slack where critical investigations, such as that of the House January 6th Committee, have fallen off in the House. Whether they will need to do so depends on which route Republicans take over the next two years—“a serious one, or a frivolous detour.”
It’s not just Democrats who think Republicans might be making a mistake, either. It’s clear from the Morning Consult/Politico survey that voters aren’t aligned with Republican lawmakers’ priorities.
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