House Republicans began Wednesday assembling their rules package, a crucial step in the changing of the guard on Capitol Hill when their new majority puts its stamp on how the chamber will conduct the people’s business.
Of the dozen proposals Republicans debated, only four were adopted.
The rules package vote came one day after Republicans picked Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California as their nominee for speaker of the House, easily defeating Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona on a 188-31 vote.
However, the number fell far short of the 218 votes that Mr. McCarthy will need on the House floor on Jan. 3, when the chamber convenes and votes for a new speaker.
Mr. McCarthy enjoyed over 85% support from his conference on Tuesday, so urging fellow members to line up behind some of his interests was likely not an uphill battle.
Although forecasters expect Republicans to re-capture the lower chamber’s majority by a slim margin, it is unknown by how much.
According to the non-partisan Cook Political Report, the House GOP could land between 220 and 222 seats, which leaves a potential cushion of just two to four seats.
Mr. McCarthy kept these numbers in mind as he and his new leadership team discussed the first half of the 24 proposals from members of their conference.
Following his Republican nomination to be speaker, Mr. McCarthy immediately batted down a demand from Freedom Caucus members back in September who wanted to revive a rule, known as the “motion to vacate,” that would let a single member call for a vote to oust the speaker.
He said the conference majority’s margin would be “too tight” and that “nobody’s going to have more power than anybody else.”
One of the rules related to the speaker’s post adopted by Republicans was proposed by Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio.
This rule would add language on the motion to vacate, which leadership supports, so the motion would “only be available with the agreement of the Republican Conference so as to not allow Democrats to choose the Speaker.”
Rep. Bob Good of Virginia and a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus criticized the proposal calling it a “scare tactic” on behalf of those supporting the status quo.
Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said Mr. Turner’s proposed rule was “one of those truth-in-advertising things.”
He said, “That was basically a slap back at the vacate the chair [motion].”
Another adopted rule, a reaction to the over two years of the Capitol complex closing during the COVID-19 pandemic, mandates that the Capitol can only be shut down in “extraordinary circumstances.”
Authored by Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, the suggested rule change says, “Guidance from the Attending Physician, or House Officers, should inform but not necessitate action by the Speaker.”
Republicans also agreed to a rule proposed by Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado that bans members of the Steering Committee, the panel that selects GOP committee assignments, from serving on the NRCC executive committee.
Finally, they added a rule proposed by Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama that bans a bill from being considered under suspension of the rules, a fast-track process that requires a two-thirds majority, if the cost estimate exceeds $250 million.
The remaining eight rules did not make the cut at this point.
This includes a proposal by Rep. Tom McClintock of California that would revive the prohibition on earmarks and consideration of legislation that contains earmarks, but the rule may be considered in the near future.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Rep. Tom McClintock of California.