Republicans flex their new House majority with new committee chairs

Republicans will step into the leadership roles once held by Democrats as the GOP takes over control of the House.
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 5:47 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Following the dramatic 15 rounds of votes that finally ended with Kevin McCarthy winning the gavel as Speaker of the House, Republicans are further asserting their majority by announcing new chairs of committees.

“We are laser focused on passing our ‘Commitment to America’ agenda,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Committees are how the Republican majority can implement their agenda, determining what bills are voted on and what’s being investigated.

“The Speaker can’t do everything. And, there’s a lot of positions of genuine influence and power that don’t come with a Speaker attached to the title,” said Casey Burgat, Director, Legislative Affairs Program, George Washington University. “So when you get it, depending on your goals about policy, committee chairs are super-powerful because that’s where the legislating is done on that particular issue area. If political goals are your power, like what is the party investigating or what are their talking points, conference chairs are really powerful there.”

Yet the Republican majority remains narrow, just five seats.

“If you only have a five seat majority, you can’t lose, you can’t afford to lose more than five votes on a bill because then it’s dead. So you would think that you’d go try to pick up some Democratic support on that. But this is where Speaker McCarthy’s job is incredibly difficult, as we saw on the on the election of him for Speaker, that every vote you gain from a Democratic side is likely a vote lost from the more conservative wing, the Trump wing of the party, that they’re not willing to just accept any and all input on bills. And for them, they’ve actually campaigned on not working with Democrats at all. And so, politically speaking, that would be a no brainer for those MAGA Republicans to sit out those votes. It’s an impossible line to walk and we’re going to see them trying to do it,” said Burgat.

As for Democrats they say, they’re willing to compromise, but only so much.

“When they’re ready to get serious about the most pressing issues facing this country, House democrats stand ready for them to deliver. Until then we’re ready to call out their extremism each and every step of the way,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Democratic Caucus Chair.