The Republican-controlled House had a busy week from Monday, Jan. 30, to Thursday, Feb. 2. The combined eight bills and 13 resolutions ran the gamut from committee assignments and government regulation to pandemic pushback and jabs at socialist and antisemitic Democrats. Of all the wins this week, just one, the Credit Union Board Modernization Act, was a bill sponsored by the Democrats. The only other two successful Democrat-led measures were resolutions electing their members to committees. Party-line votes defined most of the rest of the action this week, as the Democrats tried – and failed – to stop the Republican majority in the House.
Regulation Keeps the Wheels Turning
The GOP majority cleared five bills and two resolutions Monday, Jan. 30. The resolutions were more committee assignments, and the bills were primarily government and financial institution regulations. Rep. Juan Vargas’ (D-CA) Credit Union Board Modernization Act requires new credit unions or those that have a low soundness rating to meet monthly rather than every six months or once a year like older, more established unions. Rep. Frank Lucas’ (R-OK) Commercial Remote Sensing Act of 2023 modifies provisions relating to the licensing of private remote sensing space systems.
The Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Jobs Creators Act, introduced by Rep. Alexander Mooney (R-WV), requires the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation within the SEC to report issues encountered by rural small businesses. Rep. Jay Obernolte’s (R-CA) Cost-Share Accountability Act of 2023 requires the Department of Energy to report when it reduces or eliminates cost-sharing requirements for its research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program. And the Financial Exploitation Prevention Act of 2023, introduced by Missouri Republican Ann Wagner, would allow investment management companies dealing in pooled investment vehicles, like mutual funds, to delay the redemption of securities that might involve the financial exploitation of an adult.
The House passed five resolutions Tuesday, Jan. 31, and closed out the month with two pandemic-related bills. Rep Brett Guthrie’s (R-KY) Pandemic is Over Act declares – as the name suggests – that the pandemic is over. This bill passed on a party-line vote of 220 Republicans against 210 Democrats, with two each from both parties abstaining. One of the shortest bills of the week, it simply declares that the national emergency should end.
The Freedom for Health Care Workers Act, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), nullifies the rule titled Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination and prohibits the issuance of any other similar rule. The rule canceled by this bill required health care providers to ensure their staff was fully vaccinated against COVID to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. All but two Republicans voted in support. Seven Democrats joined the GOP, while all the rest – save two who didn’t vote – opposed. The final count was 227 to 203, with four abstaining.
Wednesday saw a single bill pass through the House. Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer’s SHOW UP Act of 2023 requires each executive agency to reinstate the telework policies from 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. It passed 221-206, with three Democrats joining the GOP majority in support and just one Republican voting against.
There were also four resolutions, including one to end the COVID-19 pandemic national emergency. Eleven Democrats joined the 218 Republicans in passing the bill, 229 to 197, with three Republicans and four Democrats not voting. As a joint resolution, it moves on to the Senate, where it and the previous day’s Pandemic is Over Act will both likely die under the Democratic majority.
Republican Resolutions Rile Democrats
The week concluded with no additional bills passed, but there were a couple of controversial resolutions on Thursday. A good deal of drama was generated by Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar’s (R-FL) “denouncing the horrors of socialism,” which passed 328 to 86. Rep Chip Roy (R-TX) demanded Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) account for her words during a 2008 oil and gas hearing that certainly sounded like a declaration of socialism. At the time, Waters had said that she would support the government taking over the oil and gas companies and running them. Roy asked if she stood by those words. Waters claimed to be a capitalist but then declared her support for the most socialist measures currently in place in the US government. “I’m not a socialist,” she finally insisted. All but three Republicans, who didn’t vote, signed on to the measure, as did 109 Democrats. Another three Democrats didn’t vote, 14 voted “present,” and 86 opposed.
The other sensational item of the day was the controversial resolution by Rep. Max Miller (R-OH) to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In 2019, Omar suggested that Jewish people and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were buying political support, saying, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” Later, she doubled down, accusing people of “pushing for allegiance to a foreign country.” Omar had long been a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led anti-Israel effort, and has referred to Israel as “an apartheid state.” The resolution to remove her from the foreign affairs committee passed by party-line vote, 218 to 211. Three Republicans and one Democrat were reported as “not voting,” with another Republican voting “present.”
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