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McCarthy's Fight To Become Speaker Drags Into Fourth Day
Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaks with Rep. Steve Scalise in the House Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6.Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images, file

Republicans’ ‘ready-to-go’ agenda stalls with surprising speed

Republicans put together a list of “ready-to-go” bills that would prove that they were serious about legislating. Now, nearly half of the bills can't pass.


About a month ago, there was still some uncertainty about who would lead the House as Republicans prepared to take over the majority. As you might’ve noticed, Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker proved to be a bit more contentious than the GOP hoped.

But while that intra-party drama unfolded, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise expressed great confidence on Dec. 30, 2022, in the Republican conference’s legislative plans. The Louisianan sent members a list of “meaningful, ‘ready-to-go’ legislation” that the chamber would take up in the first two weeks of the new Congress.

These “commonsense measures,” Scalise said, “should garner wide support and provide an indication of our bold agenda to come.”

As January comes to an end, how many of the 11 “ready-to-go” bills proved to be ready to go? About half of them. Politico reported:

House Republicans have yet to take up five of the 11 measures they deemed “ready-to-go” back in December for floor action during the first two weeks of the session. ... All of these measures were listed for consideration in the first two weeks of this Congress by Majority Leader Steve Scalise on Dec. 30. None are listed on the schedule this week, which is the chamber’s fifth.

To be sure, House Republicans have tackled some of their legislative to-do list. As regular readers know, on the GOP majority’s first full day, Republicans approved a bill to increase the deficit, help tax cheats, and target IRS agents who do not actually exist. The party also got to work trying to impose new abortion restrictions, despite public sentiments on the issue.

But legislation on immigration policy, reproductive rights, and imposing new requirements on local prosecutors, among other things, have quietly been put aside.

The “commonsense measures,” that Scalise expected to “garner wide support” and “provide an indication of our bold agenda to come” apparently don’t have the votes to pass — at least not yet.

In other words, a month into the new Congress, the House GOP majority isn’t yet ready to move on much of its own legislative agenda.

“The punted measures can, of course, be taken up down the line,” Politico’s report concluded. “But these speed bumps toward consideration are another reminder that any tiny bloc of opposition — from any wing of the party — may be sufficient to sink a bill. Republican leadership needs near unanimity on everything for passage. And that’s, of course, before running into the Democratic-led Senate and President Joe Biden’s veto pen.”

Remember, these were supposed to be the easy victories for the new GOP majority. These were the bills they worked out in advance, confident that the party could score some clear victories in its first two weeks, flexing some legislative muscles.

If nearly half of the “ready-to-go” bills can’t pass, it’s tough to have confidence in Republican leaders’ ability to advance far more challenging legislation in the coming months.