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OPINION

House Republicans Must Implement Key Changes to Show They are Serious About Changing the DC Status Quo

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Republicans ran on the issue of “Bidenflation” this past cycle. They failed to explain, however, how they would actually tackle inflation. The results of the 2022 midterms speak for themselves, with Republicans only managing to eke out control of the House. Clearly, voters, particularly independents, saw past Republicans’ veneer of fiscal responsibility.

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But in one of their first actions of the lame duck congress, Republicans further undermined their credibility by failing to abolish earmarks, the preferred legislative vessel for pork barrel spending projects in D.C. Are voters really supposed to trust a Republican majority that refuses to take the even simplest, common sense actions to reign in out of control spending? 

Frivolous spending cannot continue. With an over $31 trillion national debt, Republicans must reduce federal spending and bring inflation under control. Fiscal responsibility will help lower the cost of living, help reduce inflation, and revitalize the economy. Republicans campaigned on this, and their success in 2024 demands a return to sound fiscal conservatism.

How can Republicans claim to be fiscal conservatives if they join Democrats in passing a massive year end omnibus spending package? Do they really have the American taxpayers best interests at heart if they sign off on another $50 billion package that sends weapons to Ukraine without any oversight? Will a presumptive Speaker McCarthy actually have the backbone to fight to instead pass a concurrent resolution (CR) that would at least keep spending levels the same going into the New Year?

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How Republicans act in the lame duck session the rest of the year will give us some insight into whether they are serious about governing the way they campaign.

Republicans will need to do more with their majority to regain the trust of the American people. Another step towards regaining their footing would be to approve changes to House Rules that facilitate overall accountability and transparency. 

Since 2018, Republicans have generally displayed alignment towards what they would do with a House Majority. House Republican Conference leadership did well seeking counsel, almost on a weekly basis, from the House Freedom Caucus (HFC), ensuring that rank and file members’ voices were being heard. Since Election Day 2022, however, the perceived unity and transparency amongst Republicans has crumbled, revealing the desire by some to maintain the broken Washington status quo that voters rejected by giving the GOP the House majority.

Last month, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) held a forum which focused on the need for more transparency from federal officials and better checks and balances to hold those in leadership accountable. The well-attended forum, by both HFC and non-HFC members, clearly indicated that a change is needed – and wanted – in the legislative process on Capitol Hill. Many proposed rule changes would do just that, eliminating what could be called a “Republican Oligarchy” in order to usher in a new era of transparent governance in the House of Representatives.

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To further advance transparency, it’s affirmative that legislation that is called to a vote must be made available to members well in advance of the vote. Too often, especially in recent years, large spending bills or key legislation is voted on in the middle of the night, with congressional offices receiving text to the legislation at the last minute.  Members and their staff have insufficient time to thoroughly analyze the long-term effects of bills. Filled with pet projects, the House Democrats would regularly hold late night votes; if their agenda is truly in the best interests of the American people, why the secrecy? Why then, the refusal open up the legislative process? 

Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and others have submitted amendments advocating for a more structured process to read, debate, and consider bills before moving them to the House floor for a final vote. A more open process would give elected officials ample time to read the legislation and get feedback from their constituencies.

Leadership transparency and accountability, coupled with the empowerment of the rank and file, will showcase the GOP as the party of solutions to our nation’s problems. Leader McCarthy (R-Calif.) has an opportunity to show the American people that Republicans can change the status quo on Capitol Hill and use the legislative system to help improve the lives of all Americans and go a long ways towards regaining their trust. The American people deserve these changes that would restore checks and balances, improve transparency, and reassert Congress’ constitutional duty as stewards of the taxpayer.

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Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks.


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