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OPINION

Kevin McCarthy Could Be Conservative Speaker America Needs

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

Congress is broken and not for the reasons the media claims. 

The media wants you to believe that multiple votes for Speaker of the House is evidence of disorganization and dissent within the Republican Party. The truth is that Congress is broken for the reasons Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has stated during the Speaker’s debate – rank-and-file members have been sidelined in the legislative process in favor of the leadership elites. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) could become a transformational conservative leader thanks to this fight.

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Moderate Republicans and conservative media have been collapsing on fainting couches in cable news green rooms throughout the D.C swamp all week, because they are horrified in change from the status quo. Some talking heads are calling conservatives “nihilists” and “insurrectionists” for daring to force reform on a House of Representatives that is unpopular and not responsive to the American people. 

Not one American lost sleep over an extended debate and multiple votes for a new Speaker. They just want Congress to address inflation and leave them alone.

The reforms being pushed by conservatives will empower Speaker McCarthy to be a strong leader. Mediate reported on January 6, 2023, that reforms to the House included Freedom Caucus representation on the powerful House Rules Committee, a promised vote on term limits, a promised vote on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, individual votes on the 12 appropriations bills, and 72-hour notice before a vote on legislation. These are all common sense reforms that will make the House a stronger democratic institution. They are only controversial in the latte filled cloak room of the House of Representatives and dinosaur wing of the Republican Party.

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Dispersing power to rank-and-file House members, and even giving Democrats some votes, will make the House of Representatives a stronger institution. Reforms will diminish the partisanship that has poisoned the Congressional well because members will not have to resort to cable news to get their point across – they can offer amendments to make a point. Allowing all members, not merely leadership and committee chairs, to get votes on amendments to bills and to participate in the process fully will remove an argument from back bench members that they don’t have a say in how legislation is produced. Speaker McCarthy, empowered by reforms to the rules, could end up being the conservative Speaker the American people want, and need. 

The upcoming fight on hiking the debt limit - the borrowing authority for the federal government – will end up being a case study on why these rules changes were necessary. Without reform Congress would have been a rubber stamp increase to the credit line of the federal government at the expense of average Americans. The federal government should have to operate like American families who need to find cuts to spending when they need to spend more money on groceries, buy a car or repair a home.

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Without a deal, Speaker McCarthy would have been forced to cut deals with House Democrats to get bills passed. With a reformed House, Speaker McCarthy will end up passing a debt limit, with something like Cut, Cap, and Balance attached, forcing Senate Democrats to the negotiating table on spending reform ideas. This will give Speaker McCarthy the power to negotiate a better deal with the Senate and will strengthen the Speaker’s hand in conference negotiations. The deal on rules reform may end up being a proximate cause for new Congressional spending controls.

The many failed votes to elect McCarthy was a good thing, because it highlighted the concerns of dissenting members who stood up to the Washington elites. The American people want Congress to address out-of-control federal spending. Reps. Roy, Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Byron Donalds (R-FL), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have done our nation a service by holding up the Speaker’s race to allow a negotiation to play out. Even though some of the dissenting members did not vote for McCarthy, their work in grinding the process to a crawl helped reform the House as an institution.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy could end up being a Reaganesque leader thanks to this debate that restores the balance between strong leadership and full participation of all members of the House. Speaker McCarthy also will have a strong hand when negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on ‘must pass’ bills. 

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For all the criticism and incoming fire McCarthy has withstood from both conservatives and moderates, he may end up being a conservative leader much needed to bring the Republican Party back to conservatism in practice.

Brian Darling is former Counsel and Sr. Communications Director for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

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