Take the House of Representatives. That was the highest goal for congressional Republicans in 2022. With that feat firmly in the rearview, the forward-looking American will surely wonder what the GOP has planned for next year. What are the New Year’s resolutions for the House GOP in 2023?
The Legislative Logjam
Let us begin with what House Republicans won’t be doing much of; lawmaking. As the minority party in both houses these last two years, Republicans spent a good deal of time trying to drag down the legislative agenda of the Democrats in both chambers of Congress and the White House. With those same Democrats running the White House and Senate, the GOP knows going into 2023 that there will be little if any substantial legislation passed through both chambers and signed into law by President Joe Biden. America’s two major parties are nothing if not partisan and vindictive; tit-for-tat politics is – and has long been – the order of the day.
The foreknowledge that any significantly conservative bills will die in the Senate, however, frees the House GOP to pursue other goals. Bills will be written, of that there is no doubt – but the primary focus of the upcoming House majority will look a lot like the Democrat-controlled House under President Donald Trump.
Both the 116th Congress – the last under Trump – and the 117th were controlled by the Democratic Party. For four years, the Democrat-led House “investigated” Trump even well after he was no longer president. Republicans have made clear they intend to return the favor.
Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the incoming Oversight Committee chairman, has promised to make an investigation into Hunter Biden and other Biden family members and associates a priority. A congressional probe into whether the family business activities present a risk to US national security and President Biden’s ability to lead is sure to be big news going into the 2024 presidential campaign cycle. “Hunter and other members of the Biden family have a pattern of peddling access to the highest levels of government to enrich themselves,” Comer said in a statement. “The American people deserve to know whether the President’s connections to his family’s business deals occurred at the expense of American interest and whether they represent a national security threat.”
Comer and Senate Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), also promise an investigation into Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci became the face of the government response to COVID-19 – but there is also evidence he was involved with the virus long before it hit the US news cycle. “We need answers to many questions around the government’s failed COVID-19 pandemic response, how this pandemic started, and his [Fauci’s] role in supporting taxpayer-funded risky research without proper oversight in China,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in an August press release.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is poised to chair the Judiciary Committee, is likely looking to dig into Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray for the politicization of the DOJ and FBI against Trump and conservatives. In a letter to Garland, Jordan urged the Justice Department to preserve records related to several incidents and investigations that targeted conservative groups and individuals. He also published a 1,000-page report based on interviews with a Bureau whistleblower alleging the DOJ and FBI had been politicized against Trump and Republicans.
Finally, an investigation into the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan is all but inevitable. “If there was one that I would say 100% needs to happen as a select committee, it’s got to be Afghanistan,” Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) of the Homeland Security Committee said. “When you look at the 13 Gold Star families that never should have been Gold Star families – for them alone, they deserve answers,” she continued. “But for the equipment that got left behind, the Americans that got left behind, the families of those that we lost, there’s a lot of answers that need to be uncovered.”
Democrats impeached Donald Trump twice, though they but failed to convict and remove him from office. Now that Republicans have the House, impeachment is back on the menu. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has filed multiple articles of impeachment against both Biden and Garland, even though she stood zero chance of success, facing a Democrat House majority. In 2023, however, the GOP has the clout to make those stick – and it isn’t just Biden and Garland who should be worried. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has a target on his back, as well. “He is ignoring his duty to execute the laws of the United States to secure the border,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said. “And as a direct consequence of that, Americans are dead, migrants are dead, China’s empowered, cartels are empowered, fentanyl is pouring into our communities.”
Biden and Garland are safe from conviction, of course, as the Democrats will still hold the Senate. But Mayorkas may not be so lucky, as he has faced calls to resign even from within his own party for his failures at the border.
Tighten the Purse
With Biden in the White House and Democrats holding a slim majority in the Senate, the GOP almost certainly won’t be able to make good on any promise to balance the budget, but they can certainly get closer. For the last two years, progressive spending bills have sailed through the House, facing only what resistance the minority Republicans could mount in the Senate, thanks to the filibuster rule. Still, the reconciliation process and threats to nuke the filibuster for good have forced through some version – even if somewhat slimmed down – of the socialist wish list that is Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
Now, however, Republicans will have the option of killing a spending package outright in the House. While it’s unlikely that enough have the resolve to risk turning off the tap entirely should the Democrats be uncooperative, congressional republicans probably can look forward to pulling out some of the pork. It’s all about the debt limit and the annual government-funding omnibus. They’re valuable hostages that the left will pay dearly for – if the GOP just has the fortitude to stand fast.
Can the House GOP Build Something Real?
Though the House GOP likely will return the favor of targeting the opposing party’s president, just as the Democrats did for the last four years, the answer to one question could determine whether they’ll have any more to show for it when it’s all over than their colleagues from across the aisle. Were any real crimes committed? From “colluding” with Russia to inciting violence and evading taxes, the investigations and impeachment attempts against Trump were based on weak claims to begin with. It was clear to any not hooked by the Democrat and establishment media narrative that it was all a waste of time and resources.
What, though, will investigations turn up about Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine and how they may have involved “the big guy”? What about the apparent weaponization of executive branch departments against a sitting and then former president? That’s the problem with tit-for-tat politics – there’s no telling what skeletons the other side may uncover when it’s their turn to dig.
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