The 118th Congress has officially kicked off with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) winning the speakership in the House on January 7 after a protracted fight within the Republican party. All House members were sworn in upon McCarthy’s election; reelected and newly elected Senators were sworn in on January 3.
While many questions remain, details about what we can expect this year under the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate are starting to emerge. This week, the House passed its rules package for the 118th Congress, which includes several provisions making headlines. In order to secure the votes needed to win the speakership, McCarthy made a considerable number of concessions to the most conservative wing of the Republican caucus (known as the Freedom Caucus). Some of these concessions include:
- Any Member of Congress can call for a vote to vacate the speakership (to call for the speaker’s removal).
- Republicans want to cap FY 2024 spending at the FY 2022 level, which would cut discretionary spending by at least 8 percent below the amount enacted for FY 2023 in December (see related article).
- Efforts to raise the federal debt ceiling would need to be paired with commensurate cuts, setting the stage for a standoff in the House over the summer.
Given the fractures in the Republican party witnessed throughout the speaker debate and the razor thin majority in the House, it remains to be seen whether the Republican House will be able to advance funding and other critical legislation this year, let alone negotiate final bills with the Democrat-led Senate.
COSSA will continue to report on new developments, including during the next COSSA Headlines webinar scheduled for February 22 in which the team will provide a full look at the 118th Congress and outline our advocacy plans for the year.